Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is distributing 4,400 disposable mp3 audio file players loaded with campaign pitches for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama from local labor and elected officials. The small plastic devices, made in China, are emblazoned with the Local 98 and Obama campaign logos and the title "Vote Your Job."
John Dougherty, business manager for the union, kicks off the audio and gets right to the issue of race. Dougherty says Obama supports unions while U.S. Sen. John McCain is anti-union. So Dougherty tells his union members to forget about "skin complexion" and worry about their jobs.
"This election is not a personality contest, or should it be about race," Dougherty says. "So let’s talk about that and get it out of the way right now. The fact that Sen. McCain is white and Sen. Obama is black should not matter. But I know for some of you it does. You’re not alone. I’ve been working through this own issue in my own neighborhood."
The 60-minute recording also includes comments from U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding, Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council president Pat Gillespie and three other Local 98 officials.