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1999 Political Action Conference
Lobbying on Capitol Hill:
Taking Care of Business


Page Two
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Page One: Delegates Urge Congress: 'Get Back to the People's Business!'

• Page Two:
Lobbying on Capitol Hill: Responses range from 'Positive' to 'Pathetic'

Page Three:
UE Delegates Demand Answers on Job-Killing Trade Deals

Page Four:
Union Opposes Social Security Privatization; Demands Stronger System

Page Five: Representatives Who Fight for the People Address UE Delegates (photos)

Page Six:
Images from the Conference (photos)


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

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Kingsley, Austin, Rosen, Johnson aide

District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen points out the slow pace of the Labor Board’s handling of the unfair labor practice charges filed by Local 1187 to an aide to Sen. Timothy Johnson (D., S.D.). At left are Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley and Beth Austin, Local 893.

As UE Political Action Conference delegates took to Capitol Hill for face-to-face meetings with members of Congress, a District 11 delegation pressed Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) to look into the National Labor Relations Board’s slow handling of the unfair labor practice charges filed by UE Local 1187 in Elk Point, S.D.

Local 1187 has been on strike against the Load King division of CMI since February 9.

Meanwhile, the Virginia delegation enlisted the aid of lawmakers in the Local 124 campaign to keep CII Technologies operations in Waynesboro.

Virginia delegates, accompanied by Genl. Pres. John Hovis and Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend, personally explained to Sen. Charles Robb the high stakes in the threatened CII closure. Highly skilled, long-service workers will lose their jobs; the U.S. military will lose reliable electronic relays, they said.

Hovis, Dodge, Townsend, Robb

Making a case for jobs. Local 124 Pres. Maken Dodge explains the high stakes of the union campaign to save CII Technologies operations in Waynesboro, Va. to Sen. Charles Robb (D., Va.). From left, Genl. Pres. John Hovis, Dodge, Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend and Robb.

With the military hardware being consumed in the Balkan war, Sen. Robb said, "your bargaining power just dramatically increased." Robb pledged to call the company and Gov. Jim Gilmore.

UE rank-and-filers also got a positive response from the offices of Sen. John Warner and Rep. Robert Goodlatte; both lawmakers promised to call CII and Gov. Gilmore. "The goal of our lobbying was to get our legislators to push the company in the right direction," Local 124 Pres. Maken Dodge told the final session of the conference. "We accomplished what we came here to do."


Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Rep. Bernie Sanders (I), Vermont

Some visits with lawmakers were predictably positive, like those with Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the nation’s longest-serving independent member of Congress, and Sen. Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin. The generally liberal Democrats of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation offered a mixed bag; Diane Brawn, Local 264, described the aides to Senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy as "very lame" and uninformed and Rep. Edward Markey as "pretty pathetic" in his support for free trade.

An aide to Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) "didn’t know anything," complained Sherri Nelson, Local 791, who reported that meeting to be the "worst in three years." For the most part, though, the District Seven delegation’s meetings provoked no disputes — the aides had either mellowed or gotten better at sidestepping the issues, Nelson said. A brief meeting with Rep. Ted Strickland was "refreshing," Nelson added; the Ohio Democrat is "in our corner."

Feingold, Mahne, Jones, Harhay
Sen. Russ Feingold (D., Wis.) meets with a District 11 delegation on the Senate steps. Pictured, from left, are Local Pres. Jerry Mahne, Marilyn Jones and Al Harhay, all of Local 1111 in Milwaukee.

Bill Austin, Local 893, said the District 11 delegation — the largest at the conference — had positive meetings with Senators Feingold, Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) and Paul Wellstone (D., Minn.) and Representatives Pete Visclosky (D., Ind.) and Gerald Kleczka (D., Wis.). "The bad ones were really bad," Austin commented. For example, there was a meeting with Sen. Rod Grams (R. Minn.). "We didn’t agree on anything. Most of the Iowa congressmen were right there with him," Austin added.


The District Six delegation generally had positive meetings with western Pennsylvania lawmakers. But there were exceptions.

On this occasion, Pennsylvania’s junior Senator made a rare effort to talk to his UE visitors. But when union members questioned Social Security privatization, Rick Santorum’s usually combative self came to the fore. He railed against the UE delegates, denouncing them as "wrong-headed" and "seeing the world as flat."

The UE members held their ground and Santorum stormed off.

District Six delegates did not get a much better reception from an aide to Rep. Phil English, Republican from Erie. As Donna Cramer, Local 506, reported, the aide was "patient" and "receptive" but took no notes. When the UE members completed their questions, the aide then rounded on them for opposing his boss in the last election.

The aide was particularly exercised by a UE leaflet critical of the English record, complete with a caricature of the Congressman by UE cartoonist Gary Huck. As Cramer put it, the cartoon portrayed English as "a porky little dickens." In a new low in constituent services, the aide suggested that some union members needed to go on a diet.


The tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. had taken place the day before, so Political Action Conference delegates observed a moment of silence at the Wednesday, April 21 wrap-up session.

The UE members were joined by guests from two independent unions: the Connecticut Independent Utility Workers, Hartford, and the Civil Service Personnel Association, Akron, Ohio.

All three national officers — Genl. Pres. John Hovis, Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark and Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley — participated in the conference.

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