Delegates lobby Congress

L-549 (Pittsburg, Calif.) BM-ST Frank Secreet, l., greets Rep. George Miller (D-7th CA) in Miller’s Capitol Hill office.

Boilermakers address climate change, trade, immigration, and shipbuilding

LEAP DELEGATES FROM across the United States brought Boilermaker issues to the attention of legislators on Capitol Hill April 21-25, getting valuable “face time” with U.S. senators and representatives, as well as their staff members.

Lobbying is not just for big corporations with deep pockets. Groups representing many types of interests — including labor unions — know they can get access to legislators, too.

One key to effective lobbing is keeping your message brief and to the point. Delegates get help in this area from staff members of the Boilermakers’ Government Affairs Department, who prepare fact sheets on three or four key issues that are most important to the Boilermakers. Delegates receive briefings on these issues during the conference, including any pending legislation.

Delegates know they may only have a few minutes to spend with busy legislators, who often watch the clock for action on bills in the Senate or House chambers, so they can scramble to cast their votes.

This year, delegates pushed for action in four areas. They sought support for a cap and trade program to control greenhouse gases. Such a program would include reasonable targets, investments in new technology, and a future commitment from major trading partners.

They argued against a Colombian trade deal, because of that country’s horrendous record of violence against union organizers.

They pushed for immigration reform that would meet the needs of our economy without undermining wages and labor standards. Reform would include providing sufficient H2B visas to ensure that Canadian Boilermakers can enter the United States to supplement American members during outages.

Delegates also sought a larger investment in shipbuilding to restore the U.S. Navy to a 313-ship battle force, to prohibit leasing foreign-built ships for periods of more than two years, and to enforce the Jones Act, a law designed to protect domestic shipbuilding.