·  USW

10,000 Strong: Unprecedented number of USW Activists Volunteering for Obama-Biden

Contact: Connie Mabin, 412-562-2616

Pittsburgh  – As the final week of the campaign begins, the United Steelworkers (USW) is proud to announce that it has enlisted more than 10,000 volunteer activists from among the union’s ranks to help elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.

The largest industrial union in North America reached the milestone this past weekend, and it was announced by International President Leo W. Gerard during a stop on the Steel Blitz for Barack bus tour, one of many Steelworkers’ pro-Obama efforts across the country.

Other efforts of the 850,000-member union include member-to-member phone banking, neighborhood block walking, leafleting, rallies and voter protection.

The four-week bus tour, which includes Steelers owner Dan Rooney and retired Pittsburgh Steelers greats along with USW leaders, has been traveling to battleground areas in Pennsylvania and Ohio to drum up support for Obama and to encourage activism. The tour concludes with its largest rally to date, Saturday, Nov. 1 in Pittsburgh.

“In Pennsylvania, Ohio and across the nation, Steelworkers are knocking on doors, calling fellow union members, leafleting at their plant gates and talking to their co-workers, friends and families about why we need Barack Obama in the White House,” Gerard said. “We’re proud to announce that as of this weekend, 10,000 Steelworkers have signed up to do something between now and Election Day.”

“This unprecedented level of activism is a testament to the cry for change from our members and working families across the country,” Gerard said. “We’ve had enough of failed economic policies, bad trade deals, lost jobs and an administration that doesn’t believe in the middle class. Barack Obama knows that a strong middle class means a strong America, and we’re not going to leave one ounce of activism on the shelf as we work to elect him as our next president.”

The milestone was reached as Republican John McCain’s campaign has pinned its hopes on winning Pennsylvania. For months, some 1,700 Steelworker activists have been working for Obama in the Keystone State – block walking, phone banking, handing out educational brochures at work sites and other efforts in support of Obama-Biden. More than 1,600 USW activists have been doing similar work in Ohio, and thousands more are rolling up their sleeves in 41 states including North Carolina, Virginia, Minnesota, Georgia, Colorado, Indiana, Florida and West Virginia.

“We’ve worked hard to educate our members and union families in Pennsylvania and Ohio about why Barack Obama is the right choice to give us back the American dream,” said Jim English, the International Secretary-Treasurer of the USW who’s in charge of the union’s political program. “We’ll keep up these voter education efforts until Nov. 4, then we’ll use our 10,000-plus-strong Activist Corps to help get out the vote for Obama and other pro-worker candidates in key states like Pennsylvania.”

The union has used its revamped Web site, www.usw.org, to help communicate with activists across the country, share material such as downloadable leaflets, post diaries and photos from activists and feature video reports and blogs from the campaign trail.

“From old-fashioned knocking on doors to live blogging on the World Wide Web, the Steelworkers are doing everything we can to help elect Obama and take this country back and restore the American dream,” Gerard said.

The USW also is participating in the “My Vote, My Right” program, which seeks to ensure that everyone eligible gets to vote and that votes cast at the ballot box are properly counted. The union’s entire legal staff and hundreds of others are volunteering to help solve Election Day issues.
“This election is too important and the stakes too high to let any vote go uncounted. Our union is working to ensure all votes are properly counted. This is important to all Americans, but especially to those in communities where there is a history of repeated failings and manipulation of our election system,” said USW International Vice President Fred Redmond, who is overseeing the Steelworkers’ election protection program.

The program provides an online tool kit to help voters understand their rights (available at www.myvotemyright.org), explains sometimes complicated voting rules in simple language and has established a national hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

For reporters wishing to speak to Steelworker activists in their state, please contact the USW for more information.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector. For more information: www.usw.org/.



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