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May 02, 2007

John Edwards - At Home with Labor

John Edwards acquitted himself well with labor yesterday at a Town Hall meeting set up as part of the AFL-CIO's efforts to make a difference in the selection of the Democratic nominee for President.  They want someone in the White House who will listen to them and, from what I heard afterwards just talking and listening to folks who had been there, Edwards could be that person.  We all agreed he was at home with this crowd.  There was no effort in finding an answer to a question.  He has worked shoulder to shoulder with labor for years, and by and large, what's important to labor is also genuinely  important to Edwards. 

He grew up in a working class family in a working class town and was the first in his family to go to college.  He knows what it does to a family and a community when the mill closes down.  And he has seen the benefits of what organized labor was able to do for working families in America by providing Social Security and Medicare.  Edwards talked about having walked picket lines and worked to bring labor and business closer together over the last few years.  He talked about the importance of strong labor laws. 

In response to one worker's question, Edwards said:

The difference between being unionized and not is the difference between poverty and not.

He gave an example of a hotel that is unionized in Boston and not in Miami.  In Boston, the workers get paid between $14 and $22 an hour and receive pensions and medical benefits.  In Miami, working in the same hotel chain, the workers get $6.50 an hour and no benefits. 

One of the things that most impressed me was his consistency and his ability to educate without over-doing it or preaching. 

Edwards said he not only talked about the importance of having a strong organized Labor with labor folks, he also says the same things when he talks at Chambers of Commerce groups or Democratic Party groups.  I believe him.  Although he talked about issues such as outsourcing and foreign visa for high-tech workers that brought rousing applause, he also talked about global warming and immigration issues with this crowd.  Global warming is not an issue that has taken hold with labor yet and some of what Edwards says about how he would address immigration is not agreeable to some labor groups.  He talked about these anyway.

I look forward to hearing about the AFL-CIO Town Hall meetings that Obama will hold in Trenton and that Clinton will hold in Detroit.  With luck, one of our regular readers will be able to attend and write about the Obama meeting and we can figure out a way to hear about Hillary's meeting as well.  It's an interesting process and I'm glad that the AFL-CIO is doing this.

David Postman also has an article on the Edwards visit to the Machinists' Hall yesterday.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 2, 2007 at 11:29 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink


Edwards' longtime strength on labor issues is keeping him my front runner so far. I just wish he had shown judgment and courage with his Iraq invasion vote. That has permanently tarnished him in my eyes. At least he'd be less likely than Hillary to invade Iran.

Posted by: op99 | May 2, 2007 3:37:17 PM

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