A day after John McCain Republicans pulled the curtain off their campaign headquarters in working class Woodbridge, the national AFL-CIO endorsed Barack Obama for president and the state organization’s chief reaffirmed support for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
"At our convention we unanimously adopted a recommendation to endorse Obama," said newly re-elected AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. "Our program is up and running. We’re doing voter registration projects and getting information out to job sites.".
McCain’s New Jersey supporters are targeting what they describe as "Reagan Democrats," or working and middle class voters, including primary election supporters of Hillary Clinton.
"I don’t think Democrats are going to fall for it," said Wowkanech. "McCain’s against most of the things we stand for."
Wowkanech welcomed Obama to New Jersey a year ago to address union members at the War Memorial in Trenton and was not just impressed with what he called the candidate’s magnetic presence.
"We’re in sync with Obama," he said. "Without Obama as president, we wouldn’t have a chance for the Employee Free Choice Act. On all of our staples – his voting record is strong: Jobs, healthcare, trade. This is the chance of a lifetime for us. The stakes couldn’t be higher."
In addition to energizing their own forces, the labor leader said his members intend to take advantage of Working America Education Fund, a 501C-5 that enables labor to canvas nonunion members and build a data base of people who have similar working class concerns about the economy.
"In terms of the campaign, we’re into the educational phase right now, making sure everyone understands the difference between candidates with union newsletters and mail, so there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind," Wowkanech said. "After labor day, we’ll build on that with our get out the vote efforts and labor walks."
The New Jersey AFL-CIO numbers 1 million members.