ABOARD THE STEEL BLITZ FOR BARACK BUS -- Stop one on the Steel Blitz for Barack bus tour kicked off with great success today in Uniontown, West Mifflin and McKeesport as dozens of Steelworkers and others got pumped up by Steelers owner Dan Rooney and USW leaders.
Standing before a Pennsylvania AFL-CIO bus adorned with the faces of workers, Rooney said he decided to endorse Barack Obama for president after studying all the candidates in both political parties. Obama won his support after hearing him speak during the Democrat primaries about helping Middle Class families.
"That's the reason I endorsed Barack Obama - seeing the man and seeing what he stood for. He is a person of intellegence, of integrity, who wants to move this nation beyond its religious and racial divisions," Rooney said.
"Hope is such a big thing - hope for the future, hope for our children. Barack Obama can again offer that hope."
Rooney and retired Steelers defensive back Mike Logan joined USW International Secretary-Treasurer Jim English and International Vice President Fred Redmond on the first leg of the bus tour, which will stop in mill towns every week between now and Election Day. The final stop is scheduled to be in Pittsburgh at USW headquarters Nov. 1. (See a complete schedule here.)
While Rooney and Logan signed autographs and posed for photos, volunteers signed up union members to block walk and phone bank for Obama-Biden.
English reminded the crowds that there isn't much time left to help turn out the vote for the most important election of our time.
"We will have an opportunity to vote to replace the worst president this country has ever witnessed," English said to loud cheers from the West Mifflin crowd, where people were decked out in black-and-gold "Steel Blitz for Barack" jerseys and USW for Obama t-shirts. "You'll have a chance to vote for someone who, unlike any other candidate in recent memory, is not ashamed to use the word union when he talks to the public."
Redmond reminded the crowds of the crucial issues facing Americans - an economy in crisis, rising expenses, job losses and trouble with health insurance.
"We've got 24 days to change the direction of our country," Redmond said. "And there's no organization when it comes to mobilization, getting out the vote, knocking on doors and making phone calls better than organized labor. Millions of people are counting on us to take back our country."
Fayette County Commissioners Vince Vicities and Vince Zapotosky joined the tour in Uniontown and spoke on behalf of the Obama-Biden campaign. Pennsylvania Rep. Marc Gergely spoke on behalf of the campaign in West Mifflin and McKeesport, where Mayor Jim Brewster joined a passionate crowd of USW local leaders and members.
Logan, who grew up in Pittsburgh in a Steelworker family, encouraged USW members to do what they can to help elect the Obama-Biden ticket. He said he got involved in the campaign after his 6-year-old son showed interest in Obama during a time when Logan's mother, who did not have health insurance, was ill. She recently died at the age of 51.
"My son said to me, 'Dad, can we get Barack Obama in office so we can have health insurance so my grandmother can be here?'" Logan recalled. "Please, on November 4th, let's help my son and your children achieve their dreams.
Let's get things done to have the United States of America the way we want it to be - the way it should be."
Stay tuned to www.usw.org for more coverage from the Steel Blitz for Barack tour, including real-time photo diaries, news updates and video footage. For the latest on Obama and other campaigns crucial to working families, visit the USW's interactive Election Central here. For a direct link to a photo slide show of today's event click here.