Watching the Vice Presidential candidate’s debate tonight? Keep in mind that VP candidate Mike Pence built his legacy on supporting initiatives that sent jobs overseas, weakened unions, halted worker safety regulations, threatened retirements, and supported tax codes that burden the middle class, while providing windfalls and loopholes for his millionaire corporate cronies. Pence caters to corporate monsters, not middle class, hard-working Americans. Whose backs does he have?  Not ours. Read this article by Ed Wytkind, president of Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Brothers and Sisters,
We, as organized labor, have always been strong advocates of the Second Amendment, as many of us are hunters and outdoorsmen. What many do not know is that there is a Labor Organization called the Union Sportsman Association that was formed for these very reasons. I ask that all of you visit the site and consider joining.
I’ve received a great number of emails on this issue, and I feel I need to say more.
During this tumultuous presidential campaign, there have been persistent claims that suggest we are at risk of losing our Second Amendment rights if Hillary Clinton is
elected our next president.  This is simply not true.
In fact, this issue was discussed during the recent debate, when both candidates, Trump and Clinton, agreed that they would ‘try to get the guns out of the hands of people that should not have them’ i.e., criminals that should not be able to legally purchase a gun, according to existing laws. They both made similar comments regarding this issue.
Hillary has stated, as many others on both sides of the aisle have, that we need to have uniform laws in place to purchase and sell weapons, including a more thorough background check.
This does not, would not, and could not take away your Second Amendment rights, nor would it limit them. It simply strengthens procedures to ensure that those who qualify to own a weapon are allowed to do so, and those who do not qualify, cannot obtain one.
Donald Trump, despite his NRA endorsement, has flip-flopped several times on gun control. He stated in his book, The America We Deserve that he supported the ban on assault weapons. “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons, and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” Trump wrote.
I am a gun owner. In fact, I own several and have never had an issue with purchasing one, as I am sure most of you have not. Why? Because we are not criminals and we are of sound mind. Making gun laws more restrictive will not have any effect on my ability to own a weapon.
This issue has been spun by the Trump camp to persuade voters that Hillary will dismantle the Second Amendment, which is an outright lie.
To clarify this issue, here is what would need to happen to do away with the 2nd Amendment:  The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate would have to draft an Amendment to the Constitution. It would then have to be approved by a two-thirds supermajority. Once it has been passed by both houses of Congress, the President would then have to sign it. As if this is not enough, the proposed amendment change would then be sent to each and every state in the nation for ratification. It would then require three-fourths of the states to vote in favor of the change…nearly impossible and exactly why we have had so very few constitutional amendments. So in short, not one person, nor one branch of government can make this change.
This issue surfaces as a diversion tactic in every election, and is simply a way for Trump to divert and distract members of labor away from the real issues like fair living wages, safe work environments and our retirement, among many quality of life issues. It reminds me of a quote that I read years ago and kept for good reason: “What does a politician do when they have no record of legislative accomplishments, or solutions to solve problems? They invoke the politics of fear.” And Donald Trump is a master at using the politics of fear to capture support.
Make no mistake, our quality of life is at stake if we cast our vote in the wrong direction. Do your own research on the real issues from both candidates and see what conclusion you come up. Vote for the person who has your best interest, and the best interest of your family, at the heart of their policies.
If we vote for a candidate who sparks our emotions on hot button topics that are not factual, we will all need our guns to feed our families because our wages will decrease (why do you think the railroads are waiting to finalize our contract until after the election results are known?).
Our healthcare benefits will be stripped, eliminated or at the very least triple what we are paying now. Our retirement will be taken away and rolled into social security. The list goes on and on.
Do you need more proof?
Trump’s choice for VP, Mike Pence, has voted to limit, reduce or take away your railroad retirement and has voted against numerous labor protection and wage bills in his political career. Do you think Pence’s views have changed? Of course they haven’t.
What about Presidential appointments?
The President appoints the administrator to several extremely influential positons that have a direct effect on transportation labor: Our safety – Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; our wages – National Mediation Board, Presidential Emergency Boards; our jobs – Surface Transportation Board; and, our retirement – Railroad Retirement Board.
Do you feel more comfortable allowing Donald Trump to make these choices or Hilary Clinton, who has a long history of supporting working family agendas – and over a 92% voting record on labor issues?
It does not matter who you like personally, what matters is this: Will the next president support those critical issues – jobs, wages, retirement—that matter to you and that matter to the health and wellbeing of your family?
Our job as Labor Legislative Leaders is to seek out and support those candidates who will support our industry, our quality of life and our working class values, regardless of party affiliation.
We have spent considerable time in vetting these candidates with background checks, research, voting record checks and personal interviews. Before you cast your vote, I ask that you create a score card listing all that is at stake, and consider what you’ll get to keep and all that you could lose.
To me the answer is clear: Trump’s manipulative lies and fear-based politics is simply not in the best interest of me, my family our industry and nation and it is my hope that all of you will come to the same conclusion and vote November 8th for all SMART TD endorsed candidates .
Jerry L Gibson Jr
SMART TD Michigan State Legislative Director