Boilermakers Endorse John Kerry

Newton B. Jones, International President

John Kerry will listen to workers' needs and work with us to address our concerns.

When Congressman Dick Gephardt withdrew as a candidate for president of the United States, working families lost our strongest champion in the race.

It was a great honor to endorse and work on behalf of a man of such honor and integrity - a true hero to working men and women, union and non-union. Dick Gephardt has been a pillar of strength and dignity his entire political career, and it is the country's loss that he won't be the next president.

But our support for Gephardt was not in vain. Your hard work made a real difference. The other candidates have adopted Dick Gephardt's positions on trade and economic justice, and the huge voter turnouts we are seeing in the primaries show the great strength and determination of the Democratic Party to reclaim the White House.

Dick Gephardt will dedicate his remaining year in Congress to representing workers. Every day of his working life he has sought to bring positive change to the hard working men and women of this country, and his efforts will not cease in these final months.

In a conference call with Congressman Gephardt shortly after he announced he was withdrawing, the 18 unions that make up the Alliance for Economic Justice (AEJ) - including our union - vowed to stay focused on continuing to promote our message to the American people. Congressman Gephardt promised to consult with the AEJ before he endorsed a candidate, and the AEJ vowed to strongly consider endorsing Gephardt's choice.

Over the next few weeks, presidents from unions affiliated with the AEJ met with the leading contenders still in the race - John Kerry and John Edwards.

We were also contacted by representatives of the Bush administration, who pressed their case for our endorsement. Apparently, the White House recognizes the considerable political power of a united labor movement.

But the Bush administration supports very few of the issues most important to our members, and much of the legislation they introduce is very bad for American workers.

When it comes to jobs and the economy, they just don't seem to get it.

An example of how little this administration cares about American workers came on Feb. 11, when Gregory Mankiw, chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), told members of Congress that the trend toward outsourcing is "just a new way of doing international trade... It's a good thing."

No, it is not a good thing.

Over the past three years, the United States has lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs. Most of the American workers who have lost these good-paying manufacturing jobs are either still unemployed or have taken lower-paying jobs in the services industries.

Not only is that a bad thing for their families, but it has a ripple effect on their communities. When you're out of work, you can't buy new cars, new appliances, new houses, or new clothes. You can't go out to eat or to the movies. You can't afford health care for your family. So those businesses in your community get hurt.

When you don't spend money, you don't pay sales tax or gas tax, so your community's tax revenue drops.

Losing 2.8 million good-paying jobs is not "a good thing" for the people who have lost their jobs, for the families of those people, for the communities they live in, or for the country as a whole. The fact that a high-level member of the Bush administration would even suggest it could be good indicates how far out of touch this administration is from the American people.

And it isn't just trade. There's overtime pay, which the Bush administration is taking away from eight million workers. There's union protection, which the Bush administration has denied to more than 600,000 federal workers, and civil service protection, which they are denying to millions more. There's the $500 billion deficit that the Bush administration created by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans - a deficit that our children will end up paying off.

And a lot more.

John Kerry has a better plan.

The Kerry plan includes reviving American manufacturing by putting American companies on an even playing field with their foreign competitors.

The Kerry plan includes tax breaks for manufacturers that create jobs in the United States, instead of tax breaks for those who move jobs overseas.

The Kerry plan will provide tax relief for middle-income workers while trimming the tax cuts the Bush administration gave to the wealthiest Americans.

The Kerry plan includes closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations at workers' expense and making corporations keep honest accounting records. It will also deny federal contracts to companies that break the law.

The Kerry plan will protect American workers through stronger health and safety laws, better overtime rules, and laws that keep corporations from raiding pension funds.

Most important of all, John Kerry's plan includes listening to workers. He will listen to our needs and search for ways to address our concerns.

As you search for a presidential candidate to support, give John Kerry a long, hard look. In February, the presidents of the unions who joined together to form the AEJ voted unanimously to endorse Kerry because we believe he will continue to listen to our concerns and will work with us.

By uniting behind this candidate, Boilermakers can have a significant impact on this year's elections and on the future of our country.

Learn more about John Kerry and his vision for America at his campaign Web site: