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Politics and Rallies


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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 snear
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 ...


'It's Labor Party Time!'

Gen. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark
UE General Secretary-Treasurer Bob Clark

Political Action Conference delegates agreed with the assessment of Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark that "It’s Labor Party time!"

"The last three days basically does show us the need for a labor party," said Brahm Muther, Local 218 at the conference’s closing session.

"It should be obvious that things aren’t working around here," commented Richard Drylie, Local 683. "The Republicans and Democrats are bought and paid for; we have to do something different."

President of an Erie, Pa.-based amalgamated local, Drylie told delegates that he joined the Labor Party after a year’s reflection; his local recently affiliated. "It’s necessary to support the Labor Party today if you want your kids to have anything in the future," Drylie declared.

Most delegates had reached the same conclusion. When Clark asked the Labor Party members in the room to raise their hands about two-thirds of the delegates responded.

Labor Party 'A Priority'

Building the Labor Party is a priority for UE, Clark said. He likened the party to a permanent coalition of unions and allies that will enable working people to defend their interests and contest power. "If we’re going to make a difference we have to build a base the same way we do in an organizing campaign," Clark said.

UE can be proud that many of its district and local leaders have joined the Labor Party; the next challenge is to sign up executive board members, stewards and activists, said Ed Bruno, Labor Party organizer.

He encouraged delegates to ask their locals to affiliate, distribute the Labor Party Press and sponsor the Labor Party workshop on corporate power. "Everyone who goes through the workshop comes out a better union member and frequently a Labor Party member," Bruno said. He announced that a New England Labor Party conference will take place May 30.

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Rally for Solidarity

Rallying for cross-border solidarity

TAKING A STAND — Delegates to the 1998
UE Political Action Conference rally for
cross-border solidarity. 'The only solution
to corporate explitation across borders is to
trade union organization across borders,'
Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley (right) tells a rally
in support of the Echlin Workers' Alliance
NAO complaint against the Connecticut
(Story elsewhere on the UE web ...)
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Give Delegates
Issues Briefing

Rep. Bernie Sanders
Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shares
his thoughts with UE Political
Action Conference delegates.

The economic boom? "It is a huge lie!" declared Independent Rep. Bernie Sanders in a Capitol briefing for delegates to the UE Political Action Conference last month. Vermont’s sole representative in the House, Sanders is chairperson and founder of the House Progressive Caucus and a consistent friend of UE.

No Boom ... Just Increasing Disparity!

The real story is declining wages and the growing gap between the rich and poor, Sanders said.

Ours is an extraordinarily wealthy nation; the problem is how that wealth is distributed, he insisted. For example, Sanders said, the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country. A fortune goes to the insurance and drug companies while more than 40 million lack health coverage.

Politics is about creating a society in which people can live in dignity, Sanders declared, a society where men and women who work 40 hours a week don’t live in poverty. But creating change is impossible when two thirds of U.S. citizens don’t vote, if and when corporate-controlled media keeps the facts from the people.

Unusual for a Congressman, Sanders asked the advice of the assembled union activists on how to mobilize the majority for political change.

'They Don't Make a Penny
Unless We Produce a Product!'

Rich Drylie, Local 683 stressed the role of trade union education and said defeat of the Republicans’ anti-union gag bill (misnamed the "Paycheck Protection Act") is "a must!" Mary Larsen, Local 1111 expressed dismay at elected officials who turn their backs on workers facing job loss. Don Wimmer, Local 123 talked about the importance of broadcast media. "It’s got to start with our kids," said a delegate.

Sanders’ heartfelt expression of respect for the dignity and worth of labor received a forceful, sympathetic response from Janet Stefanik, Local 791. "They don’t make a penny unless we as workers produce a product!" Stefanik declared.

'We Should Always Have Hope'

Rep. William Coyne (D., Pa.) outlined for delegates the anti-labor bills now before Congress and cautioned that the danger continues. He cited the "Comp-Time," TEAM and "Payroll Protection" bills, and warned that fast track is not dead. "It’s important to keep pressure on the swing votes," said Coyne, who sits on the House Trade Subcommittee.

Through their so-called "Payroll Protection Act," House Republicans "are trying to silence the only voice working families have," Coyne said. The Pittsburgh Congressman suggested a better name for the bill would be "The Republican Incumbent Protection and Worker Disenfranchisement Act."

Despite the dangers, Coyne said, "We should always have hope."

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