Gerald McEntee is the International President of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Not since the darkest days of the Great Depression has an American President taken office with so many challenges awaiting him. But here’s the good news: America has overcome similar challenges before. And we can do it again.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath of office, he promised the nation bold and dynamic leadership and proved that government can be a partner with the American people to see us through dark times. Through robust public investment, FDR created jobs, provided relief and guaranteed a more secure retirement for working men and women. Today, the challenges awaiting President-elect Obama are different, but the solutions are similar: we need to reinvest in the long term stability and prosperity of our communities.

This week, AFSCME launched a new campaign, "Make America Happen," to support President-elect Obama’s efforts to revitalize our economy, provide health care for all and strengthen the middle class. We’ve created a new video as part of our campaign, highlighting the lessons to be learned from FDR’s response to the Great Depression. You can see the video and sign up for the campaign to "Make America Happen" at: www.MakeAmericaHappen.com.

President-elect Barack Obama’s call for bold action and civic engagement in response to our present crisis echoes FDR’s inspiring call to pull the nation out of the Great Depression and forge the New Deal. The video shows how our nation triumphed over economic crisis once before and can do so again by reinvesting in public service, providing health care for all Americans and growing the middle class.

In the weeks and months ahead, the "Make America Happen" campaign will build the grassroots support needed to overcome resistance and enact the kind of bold programs that are needed to address the national crisis we face today. With Barack Obama in the White House and a new Congress in place, working families have never had more public support nor had such a historic chance to affect a major shift in American politics. It’s up to each of us right now to make the most of this critical time.

You can be a part of this historic effort. Sign our petition to advance three legislative priorities of the Make America Happen" campaign:

  • Jumpstart the Economy: America needs a comprehensive economic recovery package that provides aid to ailing state and local governments and maintains vital public services and the jobs of the dedicated employees who provide them.
  • Make Health Care Affordable: Our broken health care system must be reformed and the skyrocketing costs of coverage must be controlled. Guaranteed quality, affordable health care everyone can count on is key to economic recovery.
  • Rebuild the Middle Class: Workers should be free to join unions and bargain for better wages and benefits. Unions are a ticket to the middle class and they raise the standard of living for all. We can accomplish this by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

FDR’s leadership inspired a generation and helped America’s economy get back on track. Barack Obama offers bold leadership and new solutions to address the crises we currently face. Now, we need to be involved. Already, prominent Republicans in Congress have signaled strong opposition to much of the President-elect’s agenda, including his call to give states and local governments the support they need to continue providing the services that the public needs during a difficult recession. We cannot allow them to scuttle critically important proposals that will turn our economy around and build a better future for our country.

Take a look at AFSCME’s video and sign the petition urging quick action on an agenda to create jobs and protect vital services, provide health care for all and strengthen America’s middle class. Working together we can "Make America Happen." Again.

Not since the darkest days of the Great Depression has an American President taken office with so many challenges awaiting him. But here’s the good news: America has overcome similar challenges before. And we can do it again.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath of office, he promised the nation bold and dynamic leadership and proved that government can be a partner with the American people to see us through dark times. Through robust public investment, FDR created jobs, provided relief and guaranteed a more secure retirement for working men and women. Today, the challenges awaiting President-elect Obama are different, but the solutions are similar: we need to reinvest in the long term stability and prosperity of our communities.

This week, AFSCME launched a new campaign, "Make America Happen," to support President-elect Obama’s efforts to revitalize our economy, provide health care for all and strengthen the middle class. We’ve created a new video as part of our campaign, highlighting the lessons to be learned from FDR’s response to the Great Depression. You can see the video and sign up for the campaign to "Make America Happen" at: www.MakeAmericaHappen.com.

President-elect Barack Obama’s call for bold action (more…)

Gerald McEntee

Gerald McEntee

Gerald W. McEntee is the International President of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the most aggressive and politically active organizing unions in the AFL-CIO. Since 2006, 145,000 women and men have changed their lives by forming a union with AFSCME. McEntee was first elected AFSCME President in 1981 and was re-elected in July 2008 to another four-year term.

As a Vice President of the AFL-CIO and chair of the Political Education Committee, McEntee is a key leader of the labor movement and its political efforts. Under McEntee’s leadership, the federation created its highly successful and much imitated voter education and mobilization program, which increased the number of union household voters to a record 26 percent of the electorate in 2006.

McEntee has long been a leader in the fight to reform the nation’s health care system. He chairs the AFL-CIO’s Health Care Committee and is a co-chair of Health Care for America NOW!, a national grassroots coalition that has launched a $40 million campaign to guarantee quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

McEntee is a co-founder and chairman of the board of the Economic Policy Institute, the preeminent voice for working Americans on the economy. He led the successful fight to stop President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security, was an outspoken proponent for increasing the federal minimum wage, and is one of the nation’s leading advocates for America’s vital public services.

For his efforts to improve the lives of working families, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights presented McEntee with its prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Award in 2004.

Before assuming the presidency of AFSCME, McEntee began his distinguished career as a labor leader in Pennsylvania in 1958. He led the drive to unionize more than 75,000 Pennsylvania public service employees, which at that time was the largest union mobilization in history. He was elected Executive Director at the founding convention of AFSCME Council 13 in Pennsylvania in 1973 and an International Vice President of AFSCME in 1974.

McEntee holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from LaSalle University in Philadelphia. A native of Philadelphia, McEntee and his wife Barbara live in Washington, DC.