In New Jersey, Major Opportunities to Support Working Families on Tuesday

New Jersey families are struggling under the policies he has enacted by Gov. Chris Christie: cuts to public education, attacks on collective bargaining, and tax cuts for corporations while ignoring low-income residents. At the same time, Gov. Christie has used his veto pen to frequently block pro-worker legislation: eliminating gender-based wage discrimination, transparency in state contracts, early voting to increase electoral participation, and even a bill to stem the flow of New Jersey jobs going overseas.

Tuesday’s election gives New Jersey a chance to reverse one of Christie’s most harmful vetoes and preserve a pro-worker legislature to set the state on a better path.

We strongly urge New Jersey voters to vote Yes on Ballot Issue 2 to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour and index future increase to inflation. The governor was wrong to veto a bill, passed by both houses of the legislature, raising the minimum wage. With this dollar increase, the typical minimum wage worker would see an annual raise of $980; the economy would grow by $175 million each year; and the state would add 1,500 jobs. The increase is supported by a 3 out of 4 New Jersey citizens, and is even favored by 20 major New Jersey business leaders like Dan Preston of Telequest, Inc.

For the State Senate, we endorse these pro-worker legislators to continue their fight for a working family agenda: Jeff Van Drew (1st District), Jim Whelan (2nd District), Linda Greenstein (14th District), and Bob Gordon (38th District).

For the State Assembly, we endorse strong advocates for working families in New Jersey’s lower chamber: Bob Andzejczak and Nelson Albano (1st District), John Amodeo (2nd District), Wayne DeAngelo and Dan Benson (14th District), and Timothy Eustace (38th District).

These legislators are strong supporters of bringing jobs to New Jersey by voting for a clean water infrastructure package that would upgrade local water systems in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. They stood up to a $7 million cut in state aid to neighborhood schools and worked to keep property taxes for New Jersey families low.

These legislators are focused on New Jersey working families having a fair shake. We urge New Jerseyans to vote for these candidates for State Senate and Assembly and to vote Yes on Ballot Issue 2 on Tuesday, November 5. Text VOTENJ to 30644 for more information.

Paid for by Working America, 815 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006. This expenditure was not made with the cooperation or prior consent of, or in consultation with, or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate, or person, or committee acting on behalf of the candidate.

Photo by New Jersey Working Families on Facebook

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Endorsement: Joanne Dorsher and Clark Johnson for State Representative

Take Action: Say you’ll vote in the special election and invite your friends.

Tomorrow, February 12, 2013, there is a special election in Minnesota for two state house seats. We have the chance to grow the pro-worker majority in the legislature and defeat two allies of Rep. Michele Bachmann.

The first is in House District 14A, which covers part of St. Cloud, Waite Park, St. Augusta, and two precincts in St. Joseph Township. The seat was vacated when Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) announced his resignation last month.

The second is in House District 19A, which covers parts of Mankato as well as Blue Earth, Le Sueur, and Nicollet Counties. The seat was vacated in December, when Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL-St. Peter) announced his retirement shortly after winning reelection.

Holding 19A and picking up 14A for the DFL will help pro-worker advocate Gov. Mark Dayton and his legislative allies enact a progressive agenda that works for working families, including but not limited to infrastructure investment, expansion of Medicaid, and raising the minimum wage.

For House District 14A, Working America endorses Joanne Dorsher. Ms. Dorsher is a former member of the St. Cloud School Board, and wants to invest in the right priorities for Minnesota. She will champion our schools and colleges and close wasteful corporate loopholes to make our budget sustainable in the long term.

For House District 19A, Working America endorses Clark Johnson. Mr. Johnson is a longtime educator here in Nicollet County. He’ll make sure we have a fair, progressive tax system and a budget that supports our priorities, like infrastructure and good schools. He’ll protect collective bargaining and fight privatization of important state services.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, the incendiary anti-worker member of Congress and presidential candidate, nearly lost her seat in November 2012. Nevertheless, she is still wielding her influence in Minnesota politics, advocating for Ms. Dorsher’s Republican opponent Tama Thies in 14A and former Republican Rep. Allen Quist in 19A.

Not only would victories for Dorsher and Johnson expand the pro-worker majority in the legislature, it would also signal that Bachmann’s brand of divisive politics is no longer accepted in Minnesota, from the top of the ballot down.

Say you’ll vote for Joanne Dorsher and Clark Johnson in the special election, and invite your friends to spread the word.

Prepared and paid for by the Working America Minnesota Political Fund, 815 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20006, in support of Joanne Dorsher. This is an independent expenditure not circulated on behalf of any candidate or ballot committee.

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Our 2012 Endorsements

Working America has endorsed the following candidates and ballot initiatives in the 2012 election. These endorsements do not cover all the candidates and ballot issues in which we have a stake, but they all reflect the passion of our members and the values of our organization.

On November 6, please consider the following as you go to vote:

Barack Obama for President

Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate, Massachusetts

Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate, Missouri

Martin Heinrich for U.S. Senate, New Mexico

Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate, Ohio

Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate, Virginia

Tammy Baldwin for U.S. Senate, Wisconsin

Joe Miklosi for U.S. Congress, Colorado, 6th District

Ed Perlmutter for U.S. Congress, Colorado, 7th District

Betty Sutton for U.S. Congress, Ohio, 16th District

Mark Critz for U.S. Congress, Pennsylvania, 12th District

No on Proposal 1, Michigan

Yes on Proposal 2, Michigan

Yes on Issue 2, Ohio

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Barack Obama for President

We’re proud to support President Barack Obama for re-election on Tuesday.

Four years ago, the nation was in crisis. We’d seen nearly a decade of stagnating wages, growing corporate power and steady erosion of the middle class. We were squandering time and resources we could have been using to rebuild America and create a fairer economy. In the fall, an under-regulated, irresponsible and out-of-control financial system detonated, which led to a massive recession and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. We nearly lost a major American industry as the recession crippled auto companies.

Today, we’ve seen nearly three straight years of jobs being added in the private sector. Though things are still tough, we stopped the nosedive of our economy avoided the catastrophic depression that seemed imminent in 2008. We saved nearly a million jobs or more by rescuing the auto industry. And what’s more, we passed much-needed reforms to our health care system and our financial system that will help protect working people and rein in corporate power. None of this was inevitable, none of it was easy, and none of it would have happened if our hard work hadn’t elected Barack Obama as our president.

President Obama also signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and an important credit card reform bill. He passed the Recovery Act that halted the economic collapse, cut taxes for working-class and middle class families and invested in our schools, our infrastructure and new kinds of energy. And he appointed champions for working people to the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Board.

We haven’t agreed with the president on everything, but when it comes down to it, he’s shown that he wants to make America work better for middle class and working-class families. His values and his priorities are the same ones we hear from ordinary people at their doors thousands of times a week: building prosperity by strengthening the middle class, ensuring a great education for our kids, keeping the promise of Social Security and Medicare for today’s retirees and tomorrow’s.

Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, has been hard to pin down on a lot of issues, but on the basic economic issues that matter most, his views are remarkably clear: he thinks corporations and the very wealthy are the most important actors in the economy, and so in order to make the economy work we have to tilt it ever-further in favor of those rich and powerful actors. He said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt” rather than investing in the auto industry. He named Paul Ryan as his running mate—endorsing a radical plan to demolish Medicare and leave seniors at the mercy of private insurance companies. As a finance-industry CEO, he exemplified the worst trends in our economy, stripping companies of value for himself and his shareholders and leaving the people who worked for those companies stranded. In his business career, he was referred to as a “pioneer” of outsourcing, and his proposals would give companies further incentives to ship He’s maddeningly unspecific about much of his tax plan, but every serious analysis shows that he would give bigger tax breaks to millionaires (like him) than even George W. Bush did. And he has declared time and time again that his top priority is repealing the health care reform and Wall Street reform that President Obama worked so hard to pass.

This isn’t a close call. President Obama’s skill and leadership in stopping the economic collapse and putting in place health care reform and Wall Street reform would be enough to earn him a second term—but the case for a vote for Obama is even clearer when you compare it to what a Romney administration would look like.

On Tuesday, we recommend a vote for President Obama—and we hope you’ll get your friends and family to the polls, too.

Photo by Intel Photos on Flickr

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Endorsement: No on Proposal 1, Yes on Proposal 2 (MI)

Apart from the elections for President, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, and local races, Michigan voters have opportunities on the non-partisan section of the ballot that might trump all others: making two key changes to their state constitution. Voting No on Proposal 1 would the new law that allows the Governor to appoint “emergency managers” that have the power to override local governments by removing locally-elected officials. Voting Yes on Proposal 2 would enshrine the right of workers to bargain collectively in the state constitution, protecting Michigan workers from the anti-worker attacks we’ve seen in this state and across the country.

No on Proposal 1. When the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature passed “Public Act 4” in 2011, one commentator called it “the most radical thing in American politics in this fairly radical year.” Under the guise of “fiscal responsibility” Governor Rick Snyder gained the ability to appoint “emergency managers” (EMs) to take control of local governments.

Under the new law, these EMs can unilaterally seize and sell city assets, outsource public jobs to private and/or out of state companies, lay off thousands of employees, change or terminate contracts, suspend contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and even dissolve or merge whole cities, towns, and school districts.

The abuses of these EMs have been numerous. In Benton Harbor, a majority African-American community in Southwestern Michigan, an EM dissolved the entire town council. Public workers in Pontiac saw their union contract invalidated. EM Roy Roberts closed 15 schools in Detroit and fired thousands of teachers, and those who remained had a bad contract imposed on them.

Why should citizens trust these EMs? The Pontiac EM sold the famed Silverdome for under $600,000, a $54 million loss, and then partnered with the developer he sold it to. There’s nothing about the EM law that stops this kind of action, and there is very little qualification required to be an EM.

The EM law isn’t just undemocratic and unfair; it’s also been a failure. Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and other communities are not better off because of any action by EMs. These communities weren’t in trouble because of mismanagement, they were in trouble because they are manufacturing centers at a time when manufacturing is in a decline; their infrastructure is in need of repair; and their citizens aren’t doing well enough to create a stable tax base.

These problems require attention, but the solution must match the problem. These cities need to be built back up – there is no cause for dissolving local democratic rule. That is, and we use the term carefully, un-American. Vote No on Proposal 1.

Yes on Proposal 2. With the attacks on workers’ rights of 2011 – Senate Bill 5 in Ohio and Governor Walker in Wisconsin, for example – Michigan workers decided to take action. Proposal 2 does not change current rights for union or non-union workers, it simply guarantees the current right for all Michigan workers to Collectively Bargain by adding it to the state Constitution. This proactive measure will stop so-called “right to work” laws and other measures that threaten the right to organize.

In 1989, the average Michigan worker earned over $52,000 a year. In 2010, that number had dropped 11 percent, even though according to the Economic Policy Institute, average productivity has increased 30 percent. That shift can be tied directly into the loss of collective bargaining and the attacks on union rights in that time period.

Although Prop 2 would not make any major changes to existing law, it has been subject to an incredible smear campaign of over $20 million. So let’s get some things straight: Prop 2 would not force anyone to join a union, which is illegal under federal law. Prop 2 will not raise your health care premiums. Prop 2 will not, as one ad claims, allow teachers to get away with inappropriate behavior in the classroom. That’s ridiculous, and no amount of money from the Koch Brothers, Michelle Rhee, or right-wing think tanks will make it true.

But there are real, dangerous consequences to so-called “right to work” laws, which Prop 2 prevents. Eight of the 12 states with the highest unemployment rates are “right to work” states. In a “right to work” state, wages and benefits are lower, and workplace accidents and injuries are more common.

When workers have their rights protected, everyone wins. States with higher levels of collective bargaining have lower poverty levels, high average incomes, higher educational outcomes, and better health insurance coverage for all workers, not just union workers.

Let’s make that happen for Michigan. Vote Yes on Proposal 2. Plan your vote now.

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Endorsement: Martin Heinrich for U.S. Senate

In addition to the White House race, New Mexico has a very important U.S. Senate contest on the ballot this fall.

Voters in New Mexico—and particularly Albuquerque—have the benefit of a lot of clarity when it comes to their state’s open Senate seat. The two candidates, Martin Heinrich and Heather Wilson, have both served in Congress, from the same Albuquerque-based district. So we have a good amount of voting history to make it clear what each would do if they joined the U.S. Senate. On that basis, it’s a pretty easy choice. For his attention to the right issues and priorities, Rep. Martin Heinrich has earned the promotion to the U.S. Senate.

Heinrich, who served on Albuquerque’s City Council prior to his two terms in the U.S. House, has a record of voting the right way on issues that matter to working people—health care, education and good jobs, including protecting jobs at New Mexico’s national laboratories and military bases. He supported health care reform and Wall Street reform, and he stood up to Paul Ryan’s efforts to privatize Medicare.

Wilson was a loyal vote for President George W. Bush’s vision during her time in Congress. She supported the Bush tax cuts that gave tens of thousands of dollars in tax breaks to millionaires, and she also supported a proposal to privatize Social Security, putting retirement at risk in the stock market. Her stances on taxes, the budget and retirement programs would put New Mexico jobs at risk and benefit the richest 2 percent at the expense of the rest of us.

In Martin Heinrich, New Mexicans will have a Senator who understands the issues that affect them and will vote the right way. He’ll be an energetic advocate for working people and Working America members in New Mexico are proud to support him.

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Endorsement: Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate

In Missouri, working families are lucky to have strong, independent-minded senator like Claire McCaskill. A frequent critic (and target!) of both political parties, McCaskill consistently and unapologetically holds what is best for Missouri above partisanship, popularity, and political expediency.

When the economic crisis hit and auto companies were on the brink of collapse, McCaskill worked with her colleagues and the Obama Administration to make crucial investments in the American auto industry. While not the most popular thing to do at the time, her persistence is paying off: Ford and General Motors have announced new investments of more than $1.4 billion in Missouri factories, creating thousands of jobs and revitalizing communities. She also voted to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and create tax incentives for moving offshore production back to the United States.

Senator McCaskill recognized the situation with the auto industry as one where government had to take bold, swift action. But she is also an enemy of waste, inefficiency, and corruption. She fought against the famous “no-bid contracts” in Afghanistan and Iraq, following in the footsteps of her predecessor Harry Truman.  She wants to end the practice of “secret holds” that senators use to block nominations to the court and agencies. In general, she has sought to make the U.S. Senate operate with more transparency and common sense, from her leadership on the Contracting Oversight Subcommittee right down to her personal Twitter coverage of Senate proceedings.

This year’s Senate race in Missouri has been marred by the extremism of Republican challenger Todd Akin and the injection of enormous amounts of untraceable outside money. Even before Todd Akin clinched his party’s nomination, as of July, outside groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS had spent nearly $13 million on attack ads.

As for Akin himself, his radical beliefs extend well beyond his infamous comments about rape: he has said that Medicare is unconstitutional, that he “doesn’t like” Social Security, that the minimum wage should be abolished, and that student loans are “a stage 3 cancer.”  Akin sat on the committee that produced Paul Ryan’s budget, which McCaskill says would “pull the rug out from under Missouri’s seniors in order to reward corporations and the richest Americans.”

As concerning as his agenda is Akin’s status as a policy lightweight – at a time where Missouri needs confidence in its leaders. “He appears to have only the vaguest idea of what’s contained in some of the bills he’s voted for…” wrote the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board, “You ask him about the so-called “fiscal cliff” that looms at year’s end, when a perfect storm of economic catastrophe awaits, and he says he’s not up to speed on the details of economic policy.”

McCaskill is independent, hardworking, and capable of making tough and complex decisions based on facts. Her opponent, even apart from the comments that made him famous, is none of those things. We urge a vote for Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate. Plan your vote now.

Photo by KOMUNews on Flickr

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Endorsement: Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate

As a candidate for U.S. Senate, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is running a lot of ads on TV. But if you want, skip those 30-second spots and watch this six-minute clip of Warren in 2009, in her previous role on the Congressional panel overseeing the Wall Street bailout, hammering Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on how favorably the way banks were treated during the process.

Geithner and Warren are both Democrats. But partisanship goes out the window as Warren asks question over question. Why did so much money go to AIG? Why was this process so different from that of the auto industry? And overall, why are these enormous, reckless financial institutions, whose very actions made the costly taxpayer bailout necessary, being coddled while middle class families suffer the consequences?

This is why working families need Elizabeth Warren in the U.S. Senate: because she has the experience, knowledge, and passion to take Wall Street to task – in stark contrast to all too many current members of Congress, regardless of party, who think it is their duty to do Wall Street’s bidding.

For Massachusetts families, Warren is a worthy successor to the Ted Kennedy legacy in that she fearlessly prioritizes working class families above all else. But she would also be a senator for a new era, one in which “corporate personhood,” eroding worker rights, and yawning inequality threaten our country in ways Kennedy could not have predicted.

And we don’t have to imagine the kind of tenacity Elizabeth Warren would bring to the U.S. Senate. We’ve already seen it in her fight to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which pitted Warren and her allies against the greatest lobbying force the financial industry has ever assembled. She succeeded, and in its initial months the CFPB has an impressive record of accomplishment: keeping credit bureaus honest, protecting consumers from being harassed by debt collectors, and the remarkable collection of $425 million in unfair credit card fees from American Express, Discover, and Capitol One.

While Warren’s work even outside the Senate has already resulted in $425 million back in the pockets of consumers, incumbent Scott Brown’s work in the U.S. Senate has resulted in more obstruction and unemployment. Promising to be an independent voice during his last campaign, Brown voted with fellow Republicans to block three different jobs bills: the comprehensive American Jobs Act, a bill to create infrastructure jobs, and a bill to help states rehire public workers like teachers and first responders. Had they passed, 11,000 unemployed Massachusetts workers could have jobs right now.

The greatest point of contrast, however, comes back to Wall Street. While Warren has committed to protect consumers from Wall Street’s recklessness and abusive behavior, Scott Brown is their faithful servant. He has received over $3.3 million in campaign contributions from the financial sector this cycle, more than any other member of Congress or Congressional candidate. He has repaid them by voting for tax breaks for millionaires and against tax cuts for those making less than $250,000. In the process of passing the 2010 Wall Street reform bill, Brown slipped in an exemption to allow banks to continue to invest in risky hedge funds and private equity firms.

The contrast is clear: A crusader for Wall Street and the financial industry, or a crusader for Massachusetts working families. We wholly endorse the latter, Elizabeth Warren, for U.S. Senate. Plan your vote now.

Photo by mdfriendofhillary on Flickr

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Endorsement: Ed Perlmutter (CO-7) and Joe Miklosi (CO-6) for U.S. Congress

Two critical House races are taking place in neighboring districts around Denver. In the 6th district, centering on Aurora and the southeastern suburbs, Rep. Mike Coffman is being challenged by state legislator Joe Miklosi. And in the 7th district, to the north and west of Denver, Rep. Ed Perlmutter is facing off against wealthy former CEO Joe Coors.

Perlmutter has been a strong ally for working people during his time in Congress. He has put his efforts behind creating jobs, expanding access to health care and protecting the guarantee of Social Security and Medicare. He voted against Paul Ryan’s budget, which would have cost tens of thousands of Colorado jobs, and which the AARP said would “raise costs and lower benefits” for seniors on Medicare. He’s somebody who has earned our trust. Joe Coors, however, has promised to support Paul Ryan’s plans and continue tax policies that encourage businesses to move jobs overseas. He’d be one of the richest members of Congress if elected and supports tax policies that give millionaires like him huge tax breaks.

Coffman’s voting record is squarely opposed to Perlmutter’s. He voted for the Paul Ryan budget that privatizes Medicare. And he voted for a bill that would have extended tax cuts on the richest 2 percent while ending tax cuts that benefits middle-class families. Coffman has also made some radical statements that are out of step with voters in this district, including calling President Obama “just not an American.” Coffman’s opponent, Joe Miklosi, will better represent voters in this district. His priorities are best expressed by his vote in the state legislature for the Hire Colorado Act, a bill to give incentives for companies to hire locally, and his efforts on the Audit Committee to root out waste so that the state could balance its budget without cuts to schools. Those are the kind of values the 6th district needs in Washington.

Rep. Perlmutter has made the right choices and stands with working people in the 7th district. He deserves a trip back to Washington—and his neighbors in the 6th district should bring Rep. Coffman home and send Joe Miklosi to replace him. Plan your vote now.

Photo of Ed Perlmutter by Realtor Action Center on Flicker. Photo of Joe Miklosi by Joe Miklosi on Facebook

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Endorsement: Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate

In the race for Virginia’s open Senate seat, two former governors are squaring off: Tim Kaine, who served as governor from 2006 to 2010, and George Allen, who served a term as governor from 1994 to 1998 and a term as Senator from 2001 to 2007. When you look at the two candidates—their records and what they say they’ll do in office—it’s clear that Tim Kaine is the right choice for Virginia voters.

As governor, Kaine had an outstanding record. He gave targeted tax cuts to homeowners and small businesses, while eliminating tax loopholes for big corporations. He invested in early childhood education and the state’s higher education system to help move Virginia forward. Under his leadership, Virginia was named the “best-managed state” by Governing magazine, the “best state for business” by Forbes and the “best state to raise a child” by Education Week, each year he was in office. He’ll bring those values and priorities to the U.S. Senate.

Allen is running for another chance at holding the seat he lost in the 2006 elections. He has a Senate record we can evaluate. And his record isn’t good enough to merit a trip back across the river to D.C. He was a close ally and enabler of the Bush administration, and voted for the Bush tax cuts that gave their biggest benefits to the richest 2%. He’s given every indication on the campaign trail that he would pick right up where he left off—and what’s more, he says he’d support the Paul Ryan budget that AARP says ends Medicare as we know it, driving up costs for seniors. Paul Ryan’s budget would also cost Virginia thousands of jobs.

You don’t just elect a Senator to take votes, however—that’s only part of the job. You elect a Senator to represent your state and its citizens at the national level. That’s a question of values and temperament, and it’s a test Tim Kaine excels at. He’s a compassionate, smart and pragmatic leader who knows how to reach out to all corners of a changing and growing state.

Allen, however, falls short. In his last race, Allen lost in part because he was caught on tape bullying a young Indian-American cameraman from a rival campaign, telling him “welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.” It was an embarrassing moment that showed Allen’s character clearly.

Tim Kaine’s impressive record, and his talent for connecting with people from all walks of life, will serve Virginia well if he’s elected as their Senator. He’ll make smart policy choices—the kind that were sadly lacking during George Allen’s term.

Kaine is the right choice. Plan your vote here.

Photo by The U.S. Army on Flickr

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