United Electrical workers endorse Nader
dayneg at SPAMshell.aros.net
Mon Oct 30 09:06:24 MST 2000
Escape the Two-Party Trap, Ralph Nader for President
United Electrical workers union resolution, August 30, 2000
Decades of corporate-controlled Democratic and Republican presidencies
convince us that we have no choice but to escape the two-party trap.
More than 100 years ago the AFL decided against building a party of working
people and opted instead to "reward our friends and punish our enemies."
It's a policy that has condemned unions to a never-ending commitment to
lesser evils and a declining role in one of the two parties of big business.
The pitfalls of this strategy are more obvious than ever, as union strength
continues to decline, big money plays an ever bigger role and the Democratic
Party moves rightward, tailing the Republican Party. Rewarding friends and
punishing enemies becomes more difficult when the differences blur.
When a Democratic Administration convinced a Democratic-controlled Congress
to enact the North American Free Trade Agreement through a high-powered mix
of arm-twisting and vote-buying, unions declared, "We'll remember in
November" and promptly forgot. The labor movement could have and should
have made the same vow when the Clinton Administration failed to deliver on
the peace dividend, strikers' rights and health care reform - or when a
Clinton-Republican coalition repealed the Social Security Act's protection
for poor children, under the guise of "welfare reform."
Today, Al Gore is again promising organized labor a strikers' rights bill.
It is probably not unfair to say that had the Vice President invested half
the energy on the strikers' rights bill that he unleashed lobbying on behalf
of normalized trade relations with China, the law would be on the books.
Today, Al Gore is promising to deliver health care reform piecemeal,
starting with children, instead of the broader approach even Clinton
promised eight years ago, and instead of the single-payer system so badly
needed. The Gore-controlled Democratic Platform Committee refused to
consider progressive planks that would have committed the Democrats to
protect workers' rights in the era of globalization, guarantee universal
healthcare and address income inequality. Instead, the platform endorses
"fast-track" free-trade agreements, "Star Wars" nuclear defense initiatives
and the death penalty.
How long are we to wait for the Democrats to "get it right" - especially
when the evidence increasingly suggests they don't want to? Both the
Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates are leaders of the
Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the group of insiders most responsible
for transforming the party from a nominal labor ally into a
business-friendly recipient of corporate donations. Senator Lieberman, the
current DLC chairman and an aggressive advocate of Connecticut's insurance,
pharmaceutical and aerospace industries, goes further than Gore in his
willingness to privatize Social Security. Given their histories, does
anyone really expect working people to believe that votes cast for
Gore-Lieberman will bring us any closer to universal health care, fair
trade, labor law reform, or an end to U.S. military intervention abroad?
The best arguments for the Democratic ticket are the same old arguments.
President Gore would likely make more reliably moderate judicial and NLRB
appointments than President Bush, and would veto anti-labor legislation.
Hand-picked by the wealthy elite, Bush espouses an agenda of privatizing
Social Security, expanding free trade, attacking public education and
employees and undermining organized labor which makes him a threat to
working people - guaranteeing a fight with his administration from day one.
That is a dose of reality not easily discounted. But we will face much the
same fight with a Gore-Lieberman administration.
The fundamental question still remains: how do we best build a politically
independent movement of labor and its allies to challenge corporate power
and advance a working-class agenda?
This union has worked hard to bring the Labor Party into existence, to give
it direction and to help it grow. And the record of the Clinton-Gore years
has been a daily reminder of why we need to break with the two-party set-up
and build a political alternative. That the Labor Party is not yet running
candidates for national office does not mean that we lack choices in 2000.
Ralph Nader offers us a meaningful alternative.
It's for good reason Nader was hailed as "the shop steward of the American
people" at the first Labor Party Constitutional Convention. Through his
advocacy of the average citizen in consumer safety, occupational safety and
health, the environment, health care, clean elections and other areas Nader
has spent a lifetime challenging corporate power.
Nader was on the frontlines raising public awareness of the World Trade
Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. His
Public Citizen organization single-handedly stopped the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI) by exposing this attempt to impose even
greater transnational corporate control on the world economy. For two
decades, Nader has been a leading and forceful advocate for universal,
single-payer health care as the solution to the health care crisis facing
Where Al Gore promises a strikers' rights law he wasn't able to achieve in
eight years as Vice President, Ralph Nader is committed to a labor law
reform package that looks a lot like ours - card check recognition, triple
back pay for workers fired illegally during an organizing drive, expanded
power for the National Labor Relations Board to issue injunctions to stop
unfair labor practices, binding arbitration to achieve first contracts,
repeal of Taft-Hartley, and yes, a ban on permanent replacement of strikers.
Unlike Gore, Nader is a staunch opponent of privatization. Where Gore
accepts tinkering with Social Security, Nader opposes surrendering any of
the fund's assets to Wall Street.
Ralph Nader is the candidate who best reflects UE's position on nearly every
It is unlikely that Ralph Nader will take up residency in the White House in
January. In fact, he will not even appear on the ballot in every state due
to the nation's profoundly undemocratic election laws, requiring voters in
those states to cast write-in votes. However, Nader's energetic and
principled candidacy will bring us closer to real labor law reform, national
health care, and a challenge to - if not controls on - the power of the
multinational corporations. None of this will be achieved by voting for the
business-friendly candidates of the major parties.
Regardless of who wins in November, Nader's candidacy helps us shape the
debate and further build the movement for real change, at the polls and in
the streets. His candidacy can build upon the labor, environmental and
people's rights movements who came together in demonstrations against the
World Trade Organization, IMF and World Bank in Seattle and Washington in
the past year. Nader's candidacy can also help to create an interest in this
election and bring out votes needed in crucial House, Senate and state
If we're serious about developing the political independence of the working
class, we believe the wasted vote in this election would be for pro-business
Democrats and Republicans. As Ralph Nader himself told the 1998 Labor Party
convention, as long as the labor movement is content to settle for crumbs,
we're not even going to get crumbs.
Last year, as has been the case for years, a UE convention resolution urged
the union's membership to "actively support candidates for political office
who have demonstrated a commitment to the needs of working people and
organized labor." Ralph Nader is such a candidate.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 65th UE CONVENTION:
1. Endorses Ralph Nader for President;
2. Urges UE members to actively support the Nader campaign, and make use
of the campaign to publicize issues critical to working people, such as
the need for real health care reform, labor law reform, new trade policies
and a government policy that supports our public-sector workforce;
3. Urges UE members to register to vote and fully
participate in the 2000 election, giving their support to pro-labor
candidates, where they exist, for other offices.
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