The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

July 29, 2012

Union workers rally for Democrat Eaton

3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — Capitalizing on her blue-collar background, Missa Eaton, the Democrat candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, spoke to a small group of union workers who say their main concern is attracting good-paying jobs to Mercer County and stopping the flow of jobs overseas.

Todd Clary, president of USW Local 1016, organized Saturday’s rally in Veteran’s Square in Farrell, hoping to draw support for Eaton, who he says understands the concern of local workers.

“She came to speak at one of our meetings and we liked what she had to say. She understands our concerns and our family values,” Clary said. He said he wants someone to represent him and his co-workers who will focus on investment in the manufacturing sector.

Part of Eaton’s signature five-point plan includes encouraging public/private partnerships, creating incubator programs, establishing retraining programs for the unemployed and providing an incentive to private job creation. She said the 3rd District has “wonderful empty infrastructure just waiting to be repurposed.”

Clary, a 40-year-old Clark resident who works at NLMK in Farrell, said the same topics come up time and again at the union meetings.

“We are losing customers to outsourcing. The price of gas keeps going up, the cost of health care keeps going up. Sharon Tube just shut down. We need someone who understands that,” he said.

Clary said he has attempted numerous times to speak with Mike Kelly, the Republican incumbent, but never received a return phone call. He said he spoke with an aide of Kelly’s but never with Kelly.

Kelly, the owner of a car dealership in Butler, recently made national headlines and appeared on news shows after a speech from the floor of the House where he accused lawmakers of creating too much “red tape” bureaucracy that stifles the creation of jobs.

Eaton said she “unequivocally supports the rights of workers to collectively bargain” and credits those unions for bringing about things that everyone enjoys, specifically weekends and holidays.

“We cannot forget that it was union workers before us who brought us the weekend, holidays and other benefits Americans now take for granted.”

She said she was happy to have garnered the support of the union workers. Donning a hardhat, she told the crowd of about 30 that, “If you want someone who knows what it’s like to have two cars with rust on them, a mortgage payment and you have a pension you’re not sure you’ll ever see, then I’m your candidate.”

She accuses her opponent, whom she calls “Millionaire Mike.” of being out of touch with American people and said she understands what residents of the 3rd District want, having gone door-to-door to speak personally to them.

The plan she presents touches on job creation, Social Security and Medicare protection, education investments, affordable health care and energy sustainability. Those issues, she said, are what come up time and again as she is campaigning.

Eaton recently won the Keystone Challenge, an online contest in which she garnered the most votes among 18 Democratic candidates vying for office. The win brings with it a prize of a fundraising email “blast” sent out by statewide Democratic party fundraisers.

“I was very happy about winning that because it shows that we are getting the word out.”

Eaton, who also recently gained the support of former Gov. Ed Rendell, has about $84,403 in her campaign coffers, prior to the statewide “blast.” She said she still has pledges outstanding and has recruited close to 300 volunteers.

Kelly acknowledged Eaton’s winning of the Keystone Challenge and, in a press release, said, “Maybe she’ll show us her big award next fall.”

Rep. Mark Longietti, D-7th, introduced Eaton at the rally and discussed what he called a “head-scratcher” when it comes to the “out-and-out assault on the middle class by big business.”

“The middle class built this country. Two-thirds of the economy runs on consumer spending and big business used to understand that,” he said.

He repeated a quote from automaker Henry Ford, who, when he was asked why he paid his workers so much, said, “Because I want them to be able to buy my product.”

Now, Longietti said, big business has turned its back on the middle class, shipping jobs and goods overseas, no longer caring if the middle class is strong enough to buy anything.

He also briefly touched on the voter ID controversy and said the law was intended to keep some from voting by requiring identification at the polls. The issue is being fought in court, he said, because it disenfranchises some 758,000 voters who don’t have the proper identification.

He praised Eaton for her “shared experience” of being a blue-collar worker who understands tough times.

 

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