In more than 60 meetings with members of Congress or their
aides, UE members met with a full range of reactions: friendship, interest and support;
confusion and indecisiveness; bland lack of commitment; polite lack of support; outright
If a sneer
for Cross-Border Solidarity
Delegates took time to rally for coss-border solidarity,
specifically to show their support for the Echlin Workers' Alliance NAO complain against
the Connecticut -based Echlin Corporation.
'Building the Labor Party is a priority for UE,' said Genl.
Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark. After meeting with Capitol Hill politicians, one delegate declared:
"The Democrats and Republicans are bought and paid for; we have to do something
Representatives Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and William Coyne
(D-Pa) stress the real issues and threats facing working people ... and tell delegates to
hold onto hope ...
Al Harhay, Joyce Sumner and
were among the UE Political Action Conference
delegates who took a stand for workers rights.
Tom Dunne, Local 1172 asked a question. Russ Feingold
raised an eyebrow.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wi)
meets with the UE delegation
Yes, the Wisconsin Senator knew about the Sub-Saharan African trade
bill. As the top Democrat on the African Affairs Subcommittee, Feingold had discussed the
legislation at length with the likes of Rev. Jesse Jackson.
But having a long-haired worker from a Milwaukee factory raise the issue
came as a surprise, even for a progressive elected with critical UE help.
Senator Feingold readily praised union members for their knowledge of the
IGNORANCE AND ARROGANCE
Other officials on Capitol Hill were less pleased or prepared
when questioned by the nearly 90 rank-and-file UE members moving confidently
through the corridors of power during the unions political action conference March
22-25. Congressional aides in particular tended to hide their own ignorance of
workers issues behind yuppie arrogance.
Peter Visclosky of Indiana responds
to a question raised by District 7 Pres.
Joyce Clayborne (right); pictured with her
are Kathy Smith, Local 767, Troy Tyson,
Local 792, and Kevin Washington, Local 770.
District Seven delegates were stunned when an aide to Sen. Daniel R.
Coats (R., Ind.) dismissed them as having a "zero working-mans mentality."
Joyce Sumner, Local 332 described an aide to Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D., N.Y.) as
"not capable of talking to educated rank-and-file workers." Too many Capitol
Hill aides "arent used to working-class people coming in and being prepared for
anything but a photo op," asserted Butch Pridgen, Local 120.
"What makes us different is that were prepared," said Genl.
Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark. "NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox are trying to convince us that
Clintons sex life and body parts are the most important thing going on in
Washington." UE members know differently, he said.
UE came to the Capital, Clark stated, to question Congress and the
President why one in 10 workers who organize unions are fired, why our jobs are going to
Mexico, why our living standards are stagnating.
UE delegates from every district, from California to New England, came
prepared to argue for basic workers rights and against anti-labor legislation. The
union representatives asked members of Congress if they:
Support restoration of the rights of working people to join and form
labor unions by co-sponsoring the Workplace Democracy Act (HR 2012);
Oppose legalization of company unions through the TEAM Act (HR 634/S
295) or the comp-time scheme to repeal overtime pay (HR1/S 4);
Oppose the misnamed "Paycheck Protection" (S 1663/HR 1625
& 2608) attack on labors free speech;
Oppose the undemocratic "Fast Track" mechanism to expand
Oppose the privatization ripoff of workers Social Security
Delegates also raised issues of immediate concern to the folks back home.