John McCain Won’t Be Looking for the Union Label

It’™s hard to understand how a member of any union could support the GOP. Yet, even though voting for a Republican candidate goes against every economic interest of union membership, when the curtain comes down in the voting booth, many union members vote God, gays, and guns.

Commentary By: Walter Brasch

Don’™t expect any labor union to endorse John McCain for president in the general election. The wounds from the Bush’“Cheney Administration are just too deep. But, their reasons aren’™t because of social justice issues that once pervaded the labor movement, but on bread-and-butter issues that have dominated unions the past five decades.

‘œOur economy is in crisis after years of failed Bush Administration policies that Sen. McCain has adopted as his own,’ says Karen Ackerman, AFL-CIO political director. McCain, says Steve Smith, AFL-CIO senior media outreach specialist, ‘œassails working families from worker health care and safety to trade policies.’ McCain, in agreement with Bush, has voted against protecting overtime pay and for trade deals that consistently send American jobs off-shore, often to countries where sweat shop labor is common. McCain has also voted against health insurance for children and worker safety and health. American labor also opposes his votes to privatize Social Security. McCain, who has cultivated a media image as a straight-shooting maverick, during the past seven years supported Bush 89 percent of the time, with a record high of 95 percent support last year, according to data published in the Congressional Quarterly. The only reason McCain ‘œhas some appeal to working class voters,’ says Smith, ‘œis because they haven’™t had a chance to learn about his policies.’

The 56-union federation, which represents about 10 million workers, intends to change that perception. It has developed a $53.4 million education campaign, largest in its history, to give its members information about McCain’™s policies. The ‘œMcCain Revealed’ campaign includes more than 425,000 flyers, a massive door-to-door canvas on May 17, a strong worker presence at all McCain events, and a website (www.mccainrevealed.org) with information not only about McCain, but also about the political beliefs of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Ron Paul.

The AFL-CIO itself has not endorsed any candidate’”two-thirds of its unions must endorse a specific candidate for the federation to make an endorsement’”but several member unions have already supported candidates.

Hillary Clinton has endorsements from 12 major national unions, representing about 4.9 million members. Lined up behind the New York senator are the Amalgamated Transit Union; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Teachers; International Alliance of Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians and Allied Crafts; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; National Association of Letter Carriers; Office and Professional Employees International Union; Sheet Metal Workers International Association; United Farm Workers; and the United Transportation Union.

Although Barack Obama has endorsements from only seven major unions’” with most endorsements coming after the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday election that pushed him into both popular vote and delegate leads’”they represent about 6.3 million members. Only the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Transport Workers Union, and the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters are affiliated with the AFL-CIO. Obama’™s other support comes from powerful independent unions’”the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers Union; the 1.9 million member Service Employees International Union; the 500,000 member Unite Here, which represents workers primarily in the hospitality, gaming, textile, foods service, and laundry industries; and the 1.4 million member International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The Teamsters’™ endorsement may seem unusual’¦

(more’¦)

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

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