Transcript: Thom Hartmann & Arlene Holt Baker: Victory in Ohio. November 9, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with you. And Arlene Holt Baker is on the line with us. The executive Vice President of the AFLCIO, of course. Arlene, welcome to the program.

Arlene Holt Baker: Hello, Thom, how are you doing today?

Thom Hartmann: I am great, other than Virginia, it looks like we had a heck of a day yesterday.

Arlene Holt Baker: I tell you, it was a wonderful day. You know, it was a wonderful day for the middle class in America. Because they stepped up and they voted on their behalf in Ohio and we’re just so excited. You know I think we’d have done Virginia too if the turn out had of been a little higher.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, it’s 86 votes right now is the margin on the one race?

Arlene Holt Baker: Yeah, it is. So it was turn out. But oh I tell you, we are ecstatic about Ohio. We had this inkling when the governor, when Governor Kasich decided he was going to go after collective bargaining. And the people said okay we’re going to take it to a citizen’s veto here and if you remember they only needed 230,000 signatures to get it on the ballots and they ended up turning in 1.3 million.

Thom Hartmann: Right.

Arlene Holt Baker: That should have been a sign.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, it was.

Arlene Holt Baker: But I tell you, I have seen activism, but the people in Ohio they got it. And I think around the country, it’s not just about Ohio, but it’s saying that in 2010 people elected these folk, and even though it was a number of Republican governors like Kasich and their legislators, they elected them because the economy was so bad they were looking for people that were going to find a solution so that they could put the citizens back to work. But instead they overreached and decided to go after workers, and take away their ability to bargain collectively. And it has backfired.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah well they did what Republicans do.

Arlene Holt Baker: All the time.

Thom Hartmann: And they, I mean they didn’t run on the fact that they were going to try to eviscerate workers’ rights or that they were going to try to roll back women’s rights or that they were going to make it harder and harder for people to vote. They didn’t run on any of that stuff, but that’s what they did and what Republicans have always done. I mean Harry Truman was right. And it seems to me like the, one of the most important narratives is that when President Obama in 2010 said you know I got a shellacking and the whole conventional wisdom machine in the United States was “well the Democratic party better move to the right, and you know the liberal stuff is dead.” That was nonsense. That what happened was, you know, 2008 we elected an African American as president of the United States and the House and the Senate both went democratic and people said okay, fine. Job done, everything’s cool, let’s go back to listening to rock and roll and watching sports.

Arlene Holt Baker: Thom, I couldn’t agree with you more. Because you can’t, you know, you cannot expect any politician, and in that case, to do it for you. You can have the best politician in the world elected and President Obama and all the rest of them. The people have to continue to say make them do it, make them do it.

Thom Hartmann: Yes.

Arlene Holt Baker: And in Ohio last night, the people made it very clear to Kasich that you have overreached. It was amazing to me when I listened to him last night, in his speech, and he said well I’m a servant of the people. And I now understand and hear the people. I’m a servant of the people. Well he wasn’t listening before. But he not only is Kasich listening, but governors all over this country and other legislators are listening to the people. They’re listening because people are standing up in this country. You see what’s happening with the 99% and the Occupy Wall Street, the movement. People are starting to move and they’re going to hold these politicians accountable. I know we’re going to hold them accountable at the AFLCIO, continuously we’re going to have a program making sure that they are doing what they should do on behalf of the American people. It’s a lot of desperation out here. People need jobs, they’re losing their homes, but instead these folk are trying to attack. So we understand why that is to. We understand that it’s to try to dilute the power of the people.

Thom Hartmann: And they’ve got to protect their 1%.

Arlene Holt Baker: So if they can dilute the power of organized labor, meaning organized workers who tend to vote and be participants in the process, that would help. If they can suppress the vote of people of color and young people and the elderly and the poor, then that gives them advantage. So we understand this was a power grab. But it’s a power grab that did not work. It didn’t work in Ohio last night, it did not work in Maine when the governor there decided to take away the same-day registration that people there resoundingly said uh uh, no, can’t do that governor. So this is I think an opportunity. It’s just the beginning. You know, it’s just the beginning. We can’t sit back on our laurels and say oh okay, this is just, no. We’ve got to keep pushing, we push into 2012, clearly with the agenda of the 99% of America.

Thom Hartmann: Yes, and with all due respect to you as the executive vice president of the AFLCIO, Arlene Holt Baker, this is not just a union issue.

Arlene Holt Baker: No.

Thom Hartmann: And it was not just the unions, and frankly I think it wasn’t even largely the unions, who brought about this kind of response. It was the American people who are, and which is the reason why they support the unions, given in most of the polls, would you take a union, if a union job was available to you would you like to have it, you know well over 60% of Americans, in almost however you phrase that, will answer yes, even though we have these right to work for less states now as a result of Taft Hartley. And 30 years of the war on labor by Ronald Reagan. But the unions and the union support and the unions being out in front of many of these issues. I would submit to you, is a symptom of the direction that Americans want to go rather than the lead of the direction that Americans want to go, if I may be so bold as to assert that.

Arlene Holt Baker: Listen, I concur wholeheartedly. And let me make it very clear that that would, that would not have been a victory in Ohio if it had been dependent only on organized labor and our members. It was overwhelmingly the citizens of Ohio. The polling that we have from the exit polling which is just amazing. Yes, 73% of public employees voted no, union employees and union members rejected it, 86% voted no. But guess what, the independents, 57% of independents in Ohio voted no. and 36% of conservatives, self-identified conservatives voted, 36% of them voted no. So this was not just the unions. This was working people, the employed, the unemployed, this was a vote of the middle class.

Thom Hartmann: Yes. And what we’re seeing I think is a revolt of the middle class. The middle class that has been the victim of 30 years of Reaganomics and unrelenting steady attack on the middle class. And the funding of the machine behind it by the Koch brothers and others with things like Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation and all these other right wing think tanks and right wing talk radio. In the minute we have left, Arlene Holt Baker, what suggestions do you have for our listeners and viewers about how they can get involved?

Arlene Holt Baker: Well the thing that I would certainly suggest that the viewers do, we’ve got this great opportunity now with what’s going on with Occupy Wall Street, that we are the 99%. What we’ve got to do is make sure that the elected officials, they’ve got to hear from us, and we certainly have an opportunity right now with this, you know, our deficit commission, trying to figure things out, to say to those folks, what we can do to put America back to work. One of the things that we can do if we need to let those Bush tax breaks expire, so that we can raise that 800 and billion dollars from the wealthy, and start to put people back to work and say this is not a time in our economy to start to pull away the safety net for people such as social security and Medicare.

Thom Hartmann: Amen.

Arlene Holt Baker: This is a time to figure out a way how to put people back to work. Keep the pressure on our elected officials. If we do it, if we’ve got to go to the streets, if we’ve got to sit in at their offices, we have to be willing to do so and if they don’t do it right, we kick them out in 2012, elect people who will.

Thom Hartmann: There you go. Arlene Holt Baker, Thanks so much for being with us today.

Arlene Holt Baker: Okay, thank you Thom.

Thom Hartmann: Great speaking with you.

Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.

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