|United Electrical Workers Union endorses Ralph Nader for President|
|Text of UE Convention Resolution endorsing Nader:
ESCAPE THE TWO-PARTY TRAP: RALPH NADER FOR PRESIDENT
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Clinton-Republican coalition repealed the Social Security Act's protection for poor children, under the guise of "welfare reform."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 our country.
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 issue.
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 races.
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.