Synopses & Reviews
In the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and landmark Supreme Court decisions giving corporations license to inject unlimited funds into what were once free and fair elections, corporate-backed politicians are targeting ordinary Americans as never before. As two of the most important figures in American labor, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee and Secretary Treasurer Lee Saunders, show in their gripping new book, The Main Street Moment
, efforts to crush whats left of the middle class and the American dream are being supported by those willing to stop at nothing to enshrine profits for the few at the expense of the many. But, as McEntee and Saunders demonstrate, these forces vastly underestimate the power of workers united for economic justice.
How have we become a society where banks receive billion dollar zero interest government loans and homeowners get foreclosed on? How does Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pass unprecedented legislation limiting public worker bargaining power while filling his campaign coffers with cash furnished by the billionaire Koch Brothers? How does Governor John Kasich of Ohio blame school bus drivers for the crash after he spent years peddling toxic mortgages for Lehman Brothers in exchange for a $600,000 salary? As the two of them spin it, Americas teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and nurses are the culprits behind our economic collapse. These entitled public servants dare to demand health care benefits, pensions, and meager middle class wages. And their demands, our new breed of corporate politician cry, are whats wrong with America.
Of course, American workers will not take assaults like this lying down. In fact, the unprecedented corporate predation and civil rights abuses wreaked in the first decade of this new century have triggered something extraordinary: the Main Street Moment. From Washington to Wisconsin, ordinary Americans are organizing an epic fight back against the crony capitalists trying to undo a century of hard-won enfranchisement. These Americans know that the best bulwark against economic calamity is organized labor. Unions brought you the weekend and the forty-hour work week; unions created the middle class. Now unions must save America those who would sacrifice democracy for the sake of profit.
Like the Main Street movement, the Tea Party began as a series of protest actions across the country. Though they suffered legislative losses, they focused their anger and energy toward politics, winning historic electoral victories. But before Tea Partiers won big in the 2010 mid-terms, former US Rep. Dick Armey published Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto, which served as a rallying cry for Tea Partiers that fall. The Main Street Moment will serve a similar function. It is the definitive manifesto for the 99% — for progressives and working people who know that America can only be transformed if workers stand united.
About the Author
Gerald W. McEntee is the President of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME), one of the most aggressive and politically active organizing unions in the AFL-CIO. McEntee was first elected AFSCME President in 1981 and was re-elected in July 2008 to another four-year term. AFSCME membership has increased annually throughout the years of McEntees presidency.
As a Vice President of the AFL-CIO and chair of its Political Education Committee, McEntee is a key leader of the labor movement and its political efforts. Under McEntee's leadership, the federation created its highly successful and much imitated voter education and mobilization program, which increased the number of union household voters to a record 26 percent of the electorate in the last Presidential election.
McEntee is a co-founder and chairman of the board of the Economic Policy Institute, the preeminent voice for working Americans on the economy. He led the successful fight to stop President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security, was an outspoken proponent for increasing the federal minimum wage, and is one of the nations leading advocates for Americas vital public services.
A native of Philadelphia, McEntee and his wife Barbara live in Washington, DC.
Lee A. Saunders is the Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, which represents 1.6 million workers. He was elected at the unions 39th International Convention in July 2010.
Saunders began his career with AFSCME in 1978 as a labor economist. He has served in the capacities of Assistant Director of Research and Collective Bargaining Services, Director of Community Action and Deputy Director of Organizing and Field Services. Prior to his election to the post of Secretary-Treasurer, Saunders served as Executive Assistant to AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee and was responsible for managing what is acknowledged to be one of the most effective political and legislative operations in the history of the American labor movement. Building on ideas generated by local unions, Saunders has championed AFSCMEs Next Wave initiative to encourage and develop the next generation of union leadership.
For nearly four years, Saunders served as administrator of AFSCME District Council 37, New York Citys largest public employee union, representing 125,000 members. In that capacity, he was successful in restoring the fiscal health, integrity and good name of the council and its 56 affiliated local unions.
Saunders serves as a vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, which guides the daily work of the labor federation. He is an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee, treasurer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a member of the Executive Committee of the Congressional Black Caucus Institutes 21st Century Committee. He also serves on the Board of the National Action Network.
Saunders and his wife Lynne live in Washington, DC, and have two sons, Lee, Jr. and Ryan.