AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Wednesday the labor federation has put together a "massive mobilization" program to get the vote out for the 2010 midterm elections.
The AFL-CIO will be able to reach 17 million working-class voters at home and at work using the union's status as a "trusted messenger," Trumka told reporters.
The labor group has revved up its political program in the "firewall" states of California, Illinois, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. All six of those states feature Senate races this fall, and five of the six are considered close. Ohio is also a key battleground state in the fight for the House majority.
The program focuses on gubernatorial races, 18 Senate races and more than 70 House races, and is spread across 26 states.
Unions are mounting the extensive campaign out of fear of a Republican takeover of Congress. Polls suggest Republicans have a great chance of winning the House, and even the Senate.
Trumka on Wednesday argued Republicans would give tax breaks to the wealthy.
"This election is about economic patriots, and it's also about corporate traitors," Trumka said during the briefing. He said having Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan picks party over country by pushing healthcare bill The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP rushes to vote without knowing full impact of healthcare plan MORE (Ohio) as House Speaker could mean a return to several policies unions oppose, such as changes to Social Security and tax breaks for the wealthy.
"If you listened to what BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan picks party over country by pushing healthcare bill The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP rushes to vote without knowing full impact of healthcare plan MORE said, he wants to go back directly to where we were under Bush," said Trumka, who cited Boehner's speech at the City Club of Cleveland last week. "No one gets the luxury of sitting this [election] out."
The labor federation also will run television and radio ads during the upcoming Labor Day weekend celebrating union members. They plan to run the ads during Major League Baseball and college football games as well as Sunday’s NASCAR Pep Boys Auto 500 race. Trumka described them as not "political."
Along with Working America, its community affiliate, the AFL-CIO is working on a campaign where activists will write postcards to women voters in key states to get out the vote.
The union is also planning a huge rally on Oct. 2 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., before the election. The One Nation Working Together rally will show what "a progressive economic vision looks like," said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker.
"The AFL-CIO is determined that the Tea Party and its corporate backers are not going to get the final word," she added.