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     Lots of suits. They don't have blue collars.

Why do we need a Labor Party?
Just take a look at the backgrounds
of our current politicians!


Exactly where are these people coming from? No, not the corporate lobbyists crowding Capitol Hill, but the Representatives and Senators themselves — if it’s possible to tell the one crowd of suits and ties from the other.

What did they do for a living before election to federal office?

Not surprisingly, more answered to "attorney" than to any other profession.

Forty-seven percent of the Republicans in the Senate (26) are lawyers, as are 60 percent of the Senate Democrats (27).

The two Republican Senators from Pennsylvania (Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter) are both lawyers, for example; so are Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, and James Jeffords, a Republican, to name just four.

In the House of Representatives, 33 percent of Republicans (76) and 40 percent of Democrats (83) are lawyers.


Also not surprising is the number of bosses found in both chambers.

Republicans have a slight edge on Democrats in bringing bosses to the Capitol. Nine percent of Senate Republicans (5) fall into the industrialist/boss category, as do seven percent of Senate Democrats (3).

Among the Democrats is Wisconsin’s Herbert Kohl, industrialist, and New Jersey’s Frank Lautenberg, a computer executive. Oklahoma Republican Don Nickles is a machine company executive.

Industrialist/boss types represent a solid 19 percent of Republicans in the House (44), and nine percent of House Democrats (18). Republican Peter Hoesktra of Michigan, who chairs a subcommittee of what used to be the House Labor Committee, is a furniture company executive. Amory Houghton, a New York Republican, is a glassworks company executive.

Bankers in Congress? Now that’s a safe bet. Seven Senators (all of them Republicans) and six Representatives are on loan from the banking industry. Or real estate executives — four in the Senate, 20 in the House. The insurance industry can claim one Democratic Senator and 11 Republican Representatives.

What other occupations are found in the Senate? The Democratic ranks in the Senate include a personnel director, a social worker, four teachers and an astronaut. Senate Republicans include four farmers, a clergyman, a doctor, a veterinarian and a pair of accountants.


Is there a doctor in the House? Nine, actually; eight of them Republicans, one a Democrat. The House Democrats also have a nurse on duty.

In an admirable display of candor, some Members of Congress simply declare themselves to be professional politicians. Of these, 21 are Democrats, 19 Republicans.

The Republican majority also includes 18 educators (including Prof. Newt Gingrich), eight from the news media or public relations industry, six farmers, four engineers, three bankers, three athlete/entertainers, three intelligence agents, two lobbyists, two funeral directors, a social worker, a government employee, an economist and a veterinarian/casino manager.

And the House Democrats? The Democrats claim eight from the news media or public relations, six farmers, five law enforcement officials, four accountants, three bankers, three government employees, two social workers, two law clerks, a member of the clergy, a librarian, a stockbroker, an architect and a probation officer.

The Democrats can also boast a "professional activist" and a "labor union official," who happens to be the retiring Representative from Los Angeles, Esteban E. Torres. (Unfortunately, our only union official in Congress voted for NAFTA.)

The one independent Member of Congress, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, is an educator/film-maker.


Noticeably absent from this list of occupations are most of the jobs held by UE members.

Congress has no assemblers, machine operators, welders, material handlers, jitney drivers or tool makers. No custodians, cafeteria workers, truck drivers, bus drivers, toll collectors, counselors or printers. No haulers, mechanics, secretaries, research assistants, teaching assistants or teachers’ aides.

And Congress comes up short on local union officers or stewards.


Imagine the difference on Capitol Hill if even 37 percent of House seats were filled by blue-collar workers instead of lawyers. Or if secretaries seized the 62 seats now occupied by industrialists/bosses. Or if electricians replaced real estate tycoons and janitors took the place of bankers.

What if nurses’ aides made decisions about health care instead of insurance executives? And factory workers voted on U.S. trade policies?

Elected officials will be less likely to pay lip service to the needs of working people if they are themselves working people — and union members at that.

The Labor Party gives us a real political party structure that makes possible the election of working people who are committed to carrying out a working-class program.

Isn’t it time to help build the Labor Party?

(This article is based on research by Chris Townsend, UE political action director, and Nancy McFadden, Labor Party and union member.)

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