Tom Perriello listens to an IUE-CWA Local 162 union member asking about automation.
Tom Perriello’s last stop in his listening tour through Roanoke was at the IUE-CWA Local 162 Roanoke headquarters where about 10 union rank and file members and union shop stewards from Verizon, ITT now the Harris Corporation, GE and Virginia Transformer peppered him with questions. Union members are not shy about asking questions.
Before Perriello arrived Jack Roland Chief Steward with Local 82162 at Harris Corporation said he wanted to know how Perriello views the future of the working class. Where does he see unions place in the future.
Jeff Moran, who works for Harris Corporation (again formerly ITT), is President of Local 162
Jeff Moran, who works for Harris Corporation (again formerly ITT), is President of Local 162 stood beside Perriello and introduced him. Moran encouraged members to vote for Perriello in the gubernatorial Democratic primary in June. He praised Perriello for his support of the 2nd amendment and being pro-life.
When asked where he stood on guns since his 5th district congressional days Perriello said that he supported both the 2nd amendment and universal background checks. He doesn’t have a visceral distaste for guns as some do he said. “That means I lose friends on both sides.”
He does understand and sympathize with victims of gun violence and those effected by shootings like those at Virginia Tech.
Jack Roland Chief Steward with Local 82162 at Harris Corporation
Perriello believes that the NRA these days represents gun makers rather than teaching responsible gun ownership and safety as he experienced as a boy scout. Perriello doesn’t currently own a gun he said. Several union members spoke up and agreed with his position.
“It’s an issue that has a lot of layers to it,” he said.
On abortion Perriello supported the Stupak-Pitts amendment that kept payment for abortions out of the Affordable Care Act. He has stated that he has always been pro-choice but he has changed his position on the use of federal funds for abortion services.
Perriello said that while the country is experiencing growth, all the growth is floating to the top and it is not the kind of “inclusive growth we use to have.” At one time if the top was doing well the bottom working class would move up a little with it he said.
“I was very critical of trade deals while in the Congress.” Perriello was 5th district congressman from 2008-2010 beating out Virgil Goode for the seat. He was swept out with the Republican tidal wave of 2010.
Some of the union members listening and asking questions.
Globalization was the word of the day back then said Perriello. “Maybe it was corporate greed. Maybe it was stupidity but whatever it was, they made a bet that globalization was going to work out for folks. We’ll all get super cheap stuff and somehow it will all flow from there.”
It’s true things are cheap but there is less and less money to buy things with that money he said.
“There’s something coming now that’s even scarier than that,” he said. “That’s automation. That’s where we see jobs disappearing all together.” Perriello said that 85% of the manufacturing jobs lost are due to automation and not jobs going overseas.
Where the elites got globalization wrong is child’s play compared to what we see coming down the pike he said. Concentrating too much power in the hands of a few is not good. “It’s not good for entrepreneurship – it’s not good for small businesses,” said Perriello.
Tom Perriello answers questions from IUE-CWA Local 162 union members
Another threat is an increasing return to monopolization he said. That makes it harder for working class families to start a business.
What really bothers Perriello is the redistricting map where politicians get to pick their voters. Lost is a politician making their best case to the voters and the voters then make a decision. The result is more ideological elected officials safe in their seat whose only concern is a primary challenge.
“As long as we have a system that is rigged for big interests often connected to a monopoly and not the everyday folks then I don’t think we’re going to see the kind of results that actually mean something to everyday people.” Competition matters he said.
Perriello said “what we want is good jobs with quality of life.” Now you have people working multiple jobs just to make ends meet and leaving workers with little time for family.
Perriello does want to find a way to get to a $15 an hour minimum wage. “We end up subsidizing a corporation instead of supporting the worker … there should be dignity in work.” With a $7.25 hourly wage requiring subsidy with food stamps, a worker doesn’t feel that dignity he said.
“The biggest driver of growth is the purchasing power of the working and middle class.”
The key to getting higher paying working class jobs back is to invest in Virginia’s infrastructure he said. That would create good paying jobs for at least 10 years.
Darryl Castillo, a Political Director with IUE-CWA Local 82161 and GE employee
In answer to a question about education posed by Darryl Castillo, a Political Director with IUE-CWA Local 82161 and GE employee, Perriello said that high school graduates should have two years of free vocational skills training or community college training.
It would be better to get all higher education free but having other priorities we can’t get there yet he said.
Castillo asked what was the difference between Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, who is the other Democratic candidate for governor and Perriello.
“He’s a supper nice guy,” he said. Northam should run on his record. “I’m a fighter.” He plans to run a clean campaign.
Perriello said his advantage may be that “I do think as a younger person more than most of the other candidates I feel like I see a little more of the problems that are over the horizon and not the ones that are looking backwards.” He said he can better see what is broken between the two sides referring to the Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump campaigns.
In answer to a question on automation reducing jobs once requiring human manual labor, Perriello said there needs to be a way to make it worthwhile for companies to hire human beings for these hands-on jobs.
“We’re not going to stop it,” he said.
I think part of what we need to look at though is some degree of radical globalization. He dumped on President-Elect Trump’s gloating that he kept Carrier from leaving the U.S. when in fact Carrier received a $7 million incentive to stay. Perriello maintains that the 700 jobs saved will disappear as Carrier uses those millions to automate.
The key is to reward companies for creating jobs he said and not just to use incentives to reinforce capital investments though that is important for a locality’s tax base.
Perriello said he is bullish on locally grown energy. As a 5th district congressman he worked on using methane that came from manure that could drive an entire farm while also selling excess electricity back to the grid. However he complained that Dominion resented it and placed themselves between their interests and the interests of innovation.
They should make it easier not harder to innovate he said. “You can take a farm’s biggest cost and turn it into a second crop.”
In answer to a question on coal he said that the coal region needs the kind of jobs that make things again he said. Coal is not coming back and even miners realize that natural gas is cheaper and coal deposits are diminishing.
Following the round table discussion with union members Perriello was in a rush to get to Blacksburg but did say the reason he got in the race for governor was a direct result of Hillary Clinton’s presidential loss in November.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Business, Election_2017, Elections, Politics, State Politics
Tags: democrat, Election 2017, governor, Perriello