Steelworkers and Mine Workers endorse Edwards

Official endorsement at Pittsburgh Labor Day rally gives Edwards largest bloc of union support among presidential candidates so far.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – The United Steelworkers (USW) and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) today endorsed Senator John Edwards for president. Following the Thursday endorsement of Edwards by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in America, the two endorsements announced today at a Labor Day rally in Pittsburgh with union members and their families give Edwards the largest bloc of union support so far—combined, more than 1.8 million members and retirees—among any of the presidential candidates.

“I am especially honored to receive the support of the Steelworkers and Mine Workers unions,” said Edwards, “These are the workers who built the middle class in America, and they are the backbone of the American labor movement. They understand how important it is to fight back when jobs, safety, standards and our values are at risk—and they know what’s at stake in this election.”

The Steelworkers are particularly significant. Not only are they the nation’s largest private-sector industrial union, but they also are major players in Iowa Democratic politics. A Time Magazine Poll released on Friday shows John edwards leading the field of candidates in Iowa.

A new TIME poll of likely Iowa caucus goers, taken a week after Edwards’ seven-day, 31-stop bus tour of the state, gives Edwards 29% of the vote. With the field limited to the top four candidates, Edwards’s lead over Clinton widens, to 32% to 24%. Obama was at 22%, with Bill Richardson at 13%. Iowa polls can be unreliable, since only 5% to 10% of voters go to the caucuses; some other recent surveys have Edwards in a dead heat with Clinton and Obama. The race remains wide open, but Edwards’s position remains strong.

Senator Clinton was endorsed by the United Transportation Union and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, has been endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters. 

“These workers have felt the negative impact of a broken system in Washington that is rigged against America’s working families for far too long—whether it’s the tragic lack of oversight in mine safety, trade agreements written to benefit multinational corporations while they ship American jobs overseas, or the millions of working Americans who still can’t afford health insurance,” added Edwards. “As president, I will proudly lead the fight on behalf of working families with their support—and together we will win.”

Representing 1.2 million workers and retirees, the USW is the nation’s largest private sector industrial union. Following extensive outreach to USW members that included a poll of the union’s 15,000 activists, as well as a nationwide survey of the union’s membership, the USW International Executive Board voted unanimously on Sunday, September 2nd to endorse Edwards.

The UMWA represents 105,000 active and retired coal miners, municipal employees, health care workers and manufacturing workers in North America. Their membership includes more coal miners than any union in the world.

Both Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard and UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts announced their endorsement by making clear the stakes hard-working families face and laying out why Sen. Edwards is the best candidate to lead the fight for change in America.

“Senator John Edwards is committed, as he has been throughout his life, to going to bat for everyday Americans and to changing a broken political system that leaves millions of Americans without a voice in their government,” said Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard. “Edwards is right on the issues that matter to us, and he’s the candidate with the best chance of winning in the general election. The big corporations don’t need another president who does their bidding. It’s time we had a president who will fight for working people—and that’s what John Edwards will do.”

“Senator Edwards’ positions on the issues of importance to UMWA members make him the best fit of all the candidates for president,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “We need a president who cares about ordinary working people instead of the richest Americans and the big multinational corporations. We believe John Edwards is that person, and we will work as hard as we know how on his behalf anywhere and everywhere we can.”

Close to 1,000 people were expected at the Pittsburgh Labor Day rally where the unions’ official endorsements were announced. Sen. Edwards was joined on stage by USW President Leo Gerard, UMWA International President Cecil Roberts and local union members. Elizabeth Edwards and Edwards Campaign Manager David Bonior also attended the event.

On Thursday, August 30th, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, representing more than 520,000 members from all political affiliations, also announced that they would endorse John Edwards for president. Their formal endorsement will take place at a rally of union members on September 8th in New Hampshire.

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Special Note: Senator John Edwards will be the Keynote Speaker at this years Democratic Party of Orange County Harry S. Truman Awards Dinner on Friday, October 19th.

  6 comments for “Steelworkers and Mine Workers endorse Edwards

  1. September 3, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    It used to be that the UAW would have counted as part of “the backbone” the labor movement. Maybe that’s what downsizing does for labor, eh? I was disappointed to see Dodd get the firefighters endorsement. He won’t make it. I was disappointed to see Clinton pull ahead in some Iowa polls. But this and some of the more recent Edwards polling in Iowa that you share here is pretty good news. Edwards will beat the Republicans, and he has crafted a different kind of message and coalition than the DLC crowd, even though they once considered Edwards a younger Bill-Clinton-to-be. Thanks. Happy labor day. -j

  2. Northcountystorm
    September 3, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Chris-

    I get that you support Edwards but don’t you think it would been more interesting post if you would have acknowledged Senator Clinton’s endorsement by the Machinists and the United Transportation Union as well as Senator Dodd’s endorsement by the Firefighters?

    Edwards clearly has the upper hand with the endorsements although many of the Carpenters are Republicans. No problem Chris with an Edwards Infomercial but I’d like your take on why these particular unions as opposed to the ones endorsing other candidates–other then the raw numbers–are significant developments.

  3. September 3, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Northcounty,

    You probably already know this, but the numbers alone matter for neighborhood canvassing and phone banking. Other than that I don’t know what might be special about these particular union endorsements (as against the others you mentioned). But I’m wondering where the Teamsters, SEIU, and HERE are in all this. Anyone know? Their “change-to-win” coalition is among the most active in grassroots organizing. UFCW? Didn’t the Teamsters endorse really early last time? Wasn’t it Dean? -j

  4. September 3, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    NCS,
    I have added the endorsements that Dodd and Clinton received.

    The post highlighted Edwards because it covered the story that broke today. The significance of the two additional endorsements that Edwards received is the total number of members represented by the endorsements and the significance of the USW in Iowa politics.

    Further, it is not a secret that I am an Edwards fan. In reality we have had coverage of the other top tier candidates on TheLiberalOC. Andrew is a strong supporter of Senator Obama, and Dan C. a strong supporter of Senator Clinton. In reviewing the posts featuring these three presidential candidates, I find our coverage at TheLiberalOC to be pretty balanced and if it has leaned in any direction more than another, it would be towards Senator Obama.

  5. Anonymous
    September 4, 2007 at 1:49 am

    Bill Richardson is climbing in the polls.

  6. September 4, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Chris,

    Last Friday a San Francisco court refused to block Mexican trucking companies from dispatching trucks to “anywhere” in the US. Check out teamsters.org for more information. The Teamsters view this as a life or death struggle because this is globalization come home in yet another form. Low-wage truckers from South of the boarder will–through no fault of their own–decimate the labor market while being allowed to avoid most US regulation. Where is Edwards? Clinton? Obama? The Longshoremen’s union is on the chopping block next. Plans for a massive port in Mexico will link low-wage longshoremen in Mexico to low wage truckers from Mexico that can reach anywhere in the US. In ten years or so, where do you think the longshoremen at the LA and Long Beach ports will be? Has Edwards stated a position on this? Would be an important way to back up the claim of wanting to renegotiate parts of NAFTA. Wasn’t renegotiation an intention he announced in one of the debates? I can’t remember. Maybe it was Kucinich.

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