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Raising Hell On Capitol Hill


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Issues Discussed


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 hostility.

Sen. Rick ("No Time for Workers") Santorum

If a sneer
could kill...

Rally 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.

It's Labor
Party Time!

'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 different."

Give Delegates

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 ...

Taking a stand for labor rights ...
Al Harhay, Joyce Sumner and Cindy Desautels
were among the UE Political Action Conference
delegates who took a stand for workers’ rights.

Delegates Prepared for Action

Tom Dunne, Local 1172 asked a question. Russ Feingold raised an eyebrow.

Sen. Russ Feingold

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 issues.


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 union’s political action conference March 22-25. Congressional aides in particular tended to hide their own ignorance of workers’ issues behind yuppie arrogance.

Rep. Peter Visclosky

Rep. 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-man’s 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 "aren’t 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 we’re prepared," said Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark. "NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox are trying to convince us that Clinton’s 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 labor’s free speech;

  • Oppose the undemocratic "Fast Track" mechanism to expand NAFTA;

  • Oppose the privatization ripoff of workers’ Social Security retirement system.

Delegates also raised issues of immediate concern to the folks back home.

Top of Page Next: Visiting the Hill

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