Leo Gerard, President of the USW, kicked off the convention with a powerful speech. More on the content in a later blog, but the response of the delegates is as much the story.
This is a fired up convention, rowdy, fiesty, pumped, ready, and eager to fight – determined to take back our country for working people – determined to elect Barack Obama and a new Congress – and determined to fight for health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, to protect Social Security and pension and on and on.....
There is fighting momentum here that will go far beyond the November 2008 elections.
I think a delegate I talked to summed it up the best, “It's like this convention is taking a strike vote,” she said. “It's like the union leadership just told us we have no choice but to strike and the membership roared back, 'let's go now!'”
Of particular note was the response to a section of Gerard's keynote where he took a sharp, hard line on looming contract negotiations in the steel and oil industries. He received enthusiastic standing ovations when he said, “We need to fight! We need to be willing to fight!”