This Labor Day weekend, millions of Americans will enjoy the final stretch of summer. Most won't think about the 1.6 million hardworking public service workers of AFSCME who are on duty 24/7. But evidence of what we do for our communities will be everywhere. You will see it on your drive to the beach as you travel roads and bridges built by AFSCME members. You will find it when you head to a barbecue at the park maintained by city workers and kept safe by police officers. It's at the hospital where our nurses and technicians are on the nightshift, ready to assist you in an emergency. As proud public service workers, we make America happen on Labor Day and every day.
But no matter how vital we are to the success of every community, it hasn't stopped anti-union politicians from scapegoating us to advance their extremist ideology. Instead of taking responsibility for their own policy failures, they whip up the animosity of those who don't trust government, as if those of us providing valuable public services are the enemy.
We know what those attacks are really all about. They are coming after us because we are a powerful voice for the middle class. They see us as the last obstacle in their way to dominating our economy, our political system and the direction of our country - all to benefit their narrow, profit-driven interests.
That's why we see an unprecedented level of attack meant to weaken unions in states like Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker made it his mission to steal public service workers' right to join together to negotiate better wages and benefits. Perhaps if Governor Walker spent less time attacking workers instead of helping them, Wisconsin wouldn't be dead last in job creation in the Midwest.
In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich tried to enact a similar law but voters, fed up with his attacks on working people, overturned it by referendum. And in Michigan, which has some of the worst economic inequality in the nation, Gov. Rick Snyder poured gasoline on the fire, signing a bill to strip workers of their right to form a union and going after the hard-earned pensions of retirees in Detroit. Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida are no better.
Aside from their disdain for working people, these governors have one other thing in common. They are all up for reelection.
On this Labor Day, we're sending a message to politicians. We won't back down. We will expose their agenda and come November we will work tirelessly to turn them out of office.
Our efforts will focus on bad actors in Congress as well. Just as they've pushed like-minded politicians into governors' mansions, the billionaire Koch brothers spent enormous sums to pack Congress. And they got quite a return on their investment.
Don't take my word for it. Listen to the words of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. In a speech he gave at a secret meeting of conservative mega-donors sponsored by the Kochs and leaked this week to the Nation, Senator McConnell laid out who he's really working for. Hint: It's not working Americans.
"These people believe in all the wrong things," McConnell told his big-money pals. What were those "wrong things" that "these people" believe in, according to McConnell? A living wage, retirement security and affordable college tuition.
Over in the House of Representatives, where Rep. Paul Ryan runs the same extremist agenda, things are no better. He wants to pay back his corporate backers with tax cuts paid for by gutting essential programs like Social Security, Medicare and Head Start.
The American people want real leaders committed to building an economy that works for everyone again. And AFSCME members are as devoted to electing them as we are to providing great public services. We will be out in force from now until Election Day to get the job done.
"These people" have had enough. We're ready for action.