Navigation Bar

Home -> Political Action -> Capitol Hill Shop Steward


Capitol Hill Shop Steward

What You See ... What You Get?
Handle with Tongs

As featured in
Labor Party Press

Too bad Bradley and McCain have thrown in the towel, because now the thrill is gone. Until now, anyway, this year’s presidential primaries were more interesting than anyone could have imagined.

But to be honest, most of the interesting developments were on the Republican side of the battle. The Bradley campaign was like a birthday party balloon that makes a grand entrance but eventually loses its gas and ends up all wrinkled on the floor. Somebody forgot to tell Bill that if you plan on running against somebody, it helps to check first to see if you actually have different positions on key issues. He ran a dignified if ineffective campaign.

The Republican front had all the action. Anyone with a pulse had to admit that the out-of-nowhere appearance of John McCain was fun to watch. As McCain won New Hampshire, one could only imagine the heartburn and high blood pressure of the corporate and consultant "fixers" who have been working hard to make sure that George W. Bush ends up in the White House. And Bush himself must have gone to bed a few nights wondering how he could have blown $60 million but still couldn’t get people to vote for him.


All that was the fun part. Now for the ugly part. As a lot of you probably noticed, when the McCain bandwagon really got moving, substantial numbers of ordinary independent and Democratic voters started coming out of the woodwork to support him. Why? Some folks are drawn to his history as a pilot and POW in Vietnam. He’s a "maverick" and doesn’t mince words. He would restore "dignity" to the White House — which wouldn’t take much. Most Republican senators don’t like him, so he must be okay. He’s for campaign finance reform. That seemed to be the big one. Add your own reason. The fact is, for a few weeks, John McCain was basking in a new "people’s leader" image bestowed on him by our pals in the corporate news media.


But the facts tell a very different story. Today, John McCain is quite simply one of the most anti-labor members of our already anti-labor Senate. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at a few of the "highlights" of his record:

  • McCain supported privatizing part of the Social Security system (1999).

  • McCain supported the disgraceful job-killing "NAFTA for Africa" sweatshop scheme (1999).

  • McCain supported the anti- "salting" bill making it legal to fire and blacklist union members and supporters (1998).

  • McCain supported the "comp time" repeal of overtime pay and paid leave (1997).

  • McCain supported raising eligibility age for Medicare (1997).

  • McCain supported the "right-to-work act to abolish the union and agency shop (1996). In fact, he’s a co-sponsor of the current Senate bill!

  • McCain supported the "Teamwork" bill to legalize banned "company unions" (1996).

  • McCain opposed "strikers’ rights" legislation banning permanent replacements (1992, 1992, 1995).

  • McCain supported the job-killing GATT deal (1994).

  • McCain supported the job-killing NAFTA deal (1993).

  • McCain opposed plant closing notification legislation (1987, 1988).

  • McCain opposed collective bargaining rights for public mass transit workers (1987).

  • McCain opposed the rehiring of the fired PATCO workers (1986).

  • Now, in case you need more than that, try this on for size. McCain on education: "...If you really want a better education system, you’ve got to break the teachers’ unions..."

Between 1987 and 1996, McCain racked up a miserable 13 percent pro-worker voting record as measured by the AFL-CIO.


McCain has a reputation for an explosive temper, and he apparently likes to hire campaign staff that go ape as well. The Washington Post reported recently that McCain campaign political director and confidant John Weaver makes a habit of screaming at underlings, throwing things through walls and out of windows, and enjoys demolishing cell phones in fits of rage. Just the kind of people you want running the country.

Four years ago, this Weaver guy was field director for the now forgotten presidential campaign of Texas Senator Phil Gramm. Gramm was the guy who announced during his "I’m running for president" speech that he had the biggest qualification of all — "ready money." But I’m sure that Weaver is all for campaign finance reform now, just like McCain.


Given the facts, what working person in their right mind could support this guy? And I didn’t even get to his involvement in the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s. Or that his political career has been bankrolled by big phone companies, the beer industry, Boeing, Motorola, and the union-smashing company Phelps Dodge.

When it comes to John McCain, it’s a case of "handle with tongs."

So don’t be nostalgic for the McCain campaign. Instead, let’s get busy. First, find someone you know or work with who has fallen for the McCain that they see on TV. Unfortunately, they are all around us. Second, give these folks the facts that they never could have hoped to get from our anti-labor Big Business news media. And while you’re at it, tell them about the Labor Party. If you ask, you might get a few of them to join. Because if folks want real change, what they’re really looking for is the Labor Party.

Chris Townsend is political action director of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE).

Home -> Political Action -> Capitol Hill Shop Steward

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links