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Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich —
Delegates Cheer
Congressional Allies

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UE News

Page One:
Delegates Tell Congress to Get Real (Introduction)

Page Two:
No More NAFTAs! Lobbying Against Fast Track and FTAA

• Page Three:
Delegates Cheer Congressional Allies

Page Four:
Defending Public Education

Page Five: 
Delegates (and an Articulate Teenager) Demand Closing School of Assasins

Page Six:
Conference Photo


Read the issues briefings conference delegates received in Political Action ...

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Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders

Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders describes UE as ‘one of the great unions.’ Seated behind him is UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark.

The entire UE delegation met on Capitol Hill with two of the staunchest allies of working people in Washington, U.S. Representatives Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) — who were equally pleased to see allies.

The concerns of working people are not adequately represented in Congress, Kucinich said.

"The system can work — but we must make it work," Kucinich told them. "Your presence makes a difference."

Born and raised in inner-city Cleveland (and the city’s former mayor), Kucinich said, "I haven’t forgotten where I came from." He chairs the 55-member House Progressive Caucus, dedicated to real tax reform, defense of Social Security and labor and environmental protections in trade agreements.


Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) addresses the Conference

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) addresses the Conference, as did Rep. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Both Members of Congress, leaders of the House Progressive Caucus, have compiled outstanding records in defense of working people. UE members showed their appreciation to these allies.

The Cleveland Congressman warned that "we could be looking at fast track (negotiating authority) soon," and encouraged union members to put up a fight to ensure that there be no trade deals without defense of human and labor rights and the environment. In Seattle in November 1999 protests raised the consciousness of the country, and [did so] again in Quebec in April 2001, he said. "People around the world depend on us to take a stand a stand. "There’s going to be a new debate on industrial policy, and you’re going to lead it, and I’m going to work with you," Kucinich said.

Kucinich proudly displayed his union card — he belongs to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — and declared with a grin, "don’t leave home without it!"


Occupying the seat of power - Liz Blatt tries out Rep. Bernie Sanders’s chair

Occupying the seat of power — Liz Blatt tries out Rep. Bernie Sanders’s chair while posing with Annette Vachon and Pat Foley and Sanders aide Dan O’Grady. The three UE members are from Local 221 in Burlington; the aide to Vermont’s pro-labor Congressman is a former union staffer.

No stranger to UE audiences, Sanders gained a standing ovation simply by walking into the House hearing room where the union members had gathered. His reputation is well-deserved, as Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley explained in introducing the Vermont Congressman. In support of new UE members fighting for a first contract, Sanders held a hearing giving the workers at Berlin Health and Rehabilitation the opportunity to describe their conditions, and hosted a support dinner that raised more than $1,000 for the workers’ struggle.

Typically, Sanders began his remarks by praising the Berlin workers for having the courage to organize and become the first nursing home workers in Vermont to have a union. "It’s a disgrace that nursing home workers saw an increase in their wages only when Vermont raised the minimum wage," he said. The treatment of home residents is also a disgrace, added Sanders, pointing out that the workers are fighting for the residents as well as their own families. "Their dedication is enormously impressive," he declared.


Sanders sharply criticized the unequal share of benefits from the recent economic boom and the decline in the quality of jobs and wages.

"The booming economy should have meant higher wages and fewer hours," he said. The fact that it didn’t probably had something to do with the huge contributions both parties get from the very wealthy, Sanders suggested.

The primary issue before Congress is that 43 percent of the proposed tax breaks will go to 1 percent of the population, Vermont’s independent representative said.

Sanders called for a revival of democracy, including campaign finance reform, greater participation in the political process, a stronger union movement, universal health care and a fair tax system.

He got another standing ovation.

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2001 UE Political Action Conference -> Allies

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