From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Sep 6 10:18:13 2000
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000 22:58:04 -0500 (CDT)
From: MichaelP <email@example.com>
Subject: US labor movement will support Gore
US labor movement will support Gore
Agence France Presse
Sunday 3 September 2000, 9:15 PM SGT
WASHINGTON, Sept 3 (AFP) - US labor unions, which celebrate Labor Day on Monday, want to use their
influence -- declining but still decisive at election time -- to help
Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore win the White House.
Closing his eyes on the free-trade ideology of Gore and his running mate
Joseph Lieberman, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said he was "very
enthusiastic about the whole ticket."
"In politics, we're gearing up for the biggest campaign of grassroots
people-power ever," Sweeney, head of one of the most powerful US unions,
told reporters this week.
He pointed out that worker mobilization, heavy turnout and strong
financial support could increase the chances for defeating Gore's
Republican rival George W. Bush, who enjoys close ties with the business
But while the 13-million-strong AFL-CIO formally declared its support for
the US vice president last October, other large unions, such as United
Auto Workers (UAW), have been dragging their feet.
Three other labor unions have decided to support the longshot White House
bid by Green Party nominee Ralph Nader.
Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa said his group would endorse a candidate
only after consultations with 1.5 million union members. Hoffa, who heads
another of the largest US unions, has been courted by Republicans.
President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore's support for free trade is
a hard pill for the unions to swallow. US unions see free trade as an
excuse for companies to move their jobs to third-world countries were
labor is cheaper.
The labor movement suffered a defeat in 1994 with the conclusion of the
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), lowering trade barriers
between Mexico, Canada and the United States. And it has practically lost
a congressional battle over granting China permanent normal trade
According to Joshua Freeman, professor of labor history at Queen's College
in New York, the unions' "expectations toward the Democrats are pretty
They count only on the government's positive attitude and more
socially-oriented policies in the areas of retirement and taxes, said
In an increasingly mobile country where institutions tend to disintegrate,
"what is left is the churches and the unions," Freeman told AFP.
Historically, the US labor movement is in crisis in the private sector.
The share or organized workers in industry dropped from 35 percent in 1955
to 14 percent now. Their share is only nine percent in the private sector.
However, labor union members, most of them Democrats, represent 25 percent
of the electorate. according to Freeman, who also said that union members
know how to mobilize family and friends for a vote.
Unions still wield decisive influence in the education system and old
industrial states such as Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In recent weeks, Gore has adopted a more populist stance. At the
Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, where about a third of the
delegates were union members, the vice president vowed to fight for
"working families" and against "big interest" -- words the AFL-CIO like to
In fact, "in the last two, three years the have succeeded to stop the
decline," said Freeman.
Moreover, he believes that union leadership has changed. They act more
boldly to recruit new members, using the Internet. And taking advantage
of tight labor markets, union members are making new demands.
Successful strikes this year by 20,000 engineers at Boeing and 87,000
workers at Verizon, a newly created telephone company, are examples of
Labor Day has been celebrated in the United States on the first Monday of
September since 1882.
However, these days, the holiday is more associated in the eyes of
Americans with barbecues and traffic jams.