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Happy Labor Day Or Thank God for My Union Endorsement

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In the past week, Democratic presidential candidates who were pleading for an extra push in the election found support in several unions across the nation that had been attempting to figure out which candidate best stood up for “worker’s rights”.

 

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers chose to endorse Hillary Clinton in their dual endorsement of both parties. It is the first time ever because the union normally endorses a Republican. This endorsement for Hillary came after she had recently acquired the 125,000-member United Transportation Union.

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Chris Dodd enjoyed a boost in his campaign from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the same union that endorsed John Kerry, who went on to win the Democratic primary and lose to George W. Bush. The IAFF has 281,000 members.

A carpenters’ union chose to support John Edwards. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, which has 530,000 members and were rather friendly to George W. Bush during the 2004 election although they stayed out of the race, said in a statement, “...the union believes the former North Carolina senator will have broad appeal in the general election and that his strong stand on trade and his active work on picket lines 'made him the obvious, and to our leadership, [the] only choice in this election.’'' In addition to that, the union also went on the record and said, “‘We don't have anything against Senator Clinton, but we are concerned that she's surrounded by the same economic advisers who created NAFTA,’ the North American Free Trade Agreement opposed by labor.”

One must note that Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden, are not mentioned at all as vying for any of these endorsements. Also, the Machinists’ Union who asked people to come speak to union members in Disney World mentioned in the article that Dennis Kucinich was edged out of an endorsement but do not give specifics for why that happened. Dennis Kucinich deserves to have gained one big union endorsement by now.

These endorsements beg the question, did the unions make the right decision going into Labor Day, a day given to workers as a result of union members fighting for a federal holiday to honor the working man? I’ll focus on the four candidates previously mentioned.

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Hillary Clinton seems to go both ways when it comes to “worker’s rights”. Sometimes she’s for the working man, and sometimes she’s not. The question: Is it enough to sometimes be for the working man or should you be for the working man all of the time?

In Hillary’s past, she served on “Wal-Mart's board of directors for six years when her husband was governor of Arkansas. And the Rose Law Firm, where she was a partner, handled many of the Arkansas-based company's legal affairs,” according to this article. She has in the past decade been distancing herself from a company that has come under fire for its health care and labor policies by many progressives in America. The article goes on to say that, “Hillary Clinton was paid $18,000 each year she served on the board, plus $1,500 for each meeting she attended. By 1993 she had accumulated at least $100,000 in Wal-Mart stock, according to Bill Clinton's federal financial disclosure forms that year.” Also, Wal-Mart has refused to release the minutes of the board meetings during the time she served on the board. Hillary’s ties to Wal-Mart are just as questionable as George W. Bush’s were to Enron.

Hillary Clinton has a voting record that supports Free Trade Agreements (FTA). She has voted for the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, and the United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act in the past six years in Congress. Her votes expanded on NAFTA. However, she voted against Fast Track 2002 and CAFTA. Altogether, that gives her a 43% fair trade voting record.

Chris Dodd supported the United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, supported Fast Track 3 times (1984, 1988, and 1993), and has also supported Canada FTA, NAFTA, WTO, NAFTA for Africa (twice), China PNTR, and the Australia FTA. He did not vote on Fast Track 1979. While he did vote correctly against Fast Track 2002 (twice), Fast Track disapproval, and NAFTA expansions to Chile, Singapore, Central America and Oman, his voting record gives him a 39% rating.

But regardless of his record, Chris Dodd gave an excellent answer to this question that appears in an AFL-CIO questionnaire on the Internet:

What role do you believe unions play in our economy and society, and what will you do to restore the freedom of all working people to join together in unions to bargain for a better life? Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act that passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 1 and is being considered in the U.S. Senate and will you make it law?

I not only believe unions play a critical role in American society – and that if we are to have any hope of meeting the challenges of the 21st century, it will start with a vibrant labor movement fighting for fair wages, worker protections and security in retirement.

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I’m a strong supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act because I believe there is a direct connection between the decline of union membership and the growing gap between the rich and poor in this country. As President, signing it into law will be priority number one when it comes to polices impacting working families. And I believe it will take someone with the right experience and relationships to break that deadlock in the Senate.

I’ve also introduced the Re-empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers (RESPECT) Act, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to modify the definition of supervisor in order to ensure that no employee is unjustly denied his or her right to join a labor union. At a time when the National Labor Relations Board is so clearly toothless and ineffectual when it comes to protecting workers’ rights to organize, the RESPECT Act will ensure that more workers will be able to unionize and collectively bargain for the wages and working conditions they rightly deserve. It’s an idea whose time has come.

With that kind of answer, one would be hard pressed not to endorse him.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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