Wednesday :: Sep 5, 2007

Bill Richardson Stands With Working Families

by Ken Camp

This diary actually started with a conversation I had a few weeks ago with two prominent labor leaders here in Washington state. Both told me that they felt Bill Richardson was a strong labor candidate because he "talks union politics" no matter what audience is listening, something not all of the candidates do (in their opinion). But waxing poetic about union politics and issues that affect working families, as Democratic candidates are known to do, isn't enough. Actions speak louder than words. And Bill Richardson has a long record of accomplishment with regard to America's working families.

Saturday, Governor Richardson issued this statement, joining all Americans on this Labor Day in honoring the contributions and sacrifices of working men and women for the betterment of our nation.

On Labor Day, we honor the working men and women throughout history whose hard work and dedication have made this nation great, along with the workers of today who keep our economy moving. There is no workforce more capable or reliable than here in America.

Unfortunately, American working families have been cast adrift and forgotten by the current administration. Our workers have been denied the right to collective bargaining and individual rights have been trampled upon. I say enough is enough. When I am President, the White House will once again be home to a friend of working American families.

As President, I will not rest until government workers have the right to collective bargaining. I will help enact card check and fair share nationally, and my Secretary of Labor will be a union worker.

But what has Bill Richardson done for working families? Follow me over to the flip side.

As Governor, Bill Richardson has increased the minimum wage for all New Mexicans. In addition, he reinstated collective bargaining for public employees, supported stronger penalties for employer violations while workers attempt to unionize, secured the first public works labor agreement in New Mexico history and made New Mexico's prevailing wage a union wage. Governor Richardson also cut taxes for working families again this year, returning $52 million to their pockets.

In July, unemployment in New Mexico hit an all-time low of 3.5%, lower than the national average of 4.5%. In the last year, New Mexico has added 14,700 jobs, with over 80,000 new jobs being created in New Mexico under Governor Richardson's stewardship.

Governor Richardson also has taken the progressive and economically just step of ending taxation on food and medicine in New Mexico.

As President, Bill Richardson will appoint a union member as his Secretary of Labor. He's also indicated his strong support for the Employee Free Choice Act, allowing workers to unionize without fear of retribution or intimidation. Given his record as Governor of New Mexico, working men and women have every reason to believe that Bill Richardson will be a staunch defender of their rights to collectively bargain. And at the AFL-CIO debate in Chicago last month, Governor Richardson also said he'd get rid of all the union busting attorneys in the Department of Labor and OSHA.

With regard to trade, Governor Richardson supports strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards being included in any future free trade agreement.

Q: Should further rounds of the World Trade Organization agreements incorporate internationally recognized workers rights?

A: What I believe we need in this country is fair trade, not just unabashed free trade. What I would do is, first of all, any future international trade agreement should have the following components as part of the law, not as a side agreement.

  1. Worker protections, because this is critically important comparing work standards in America and in other countries.
  2. We should have environmental protections. One of the unfortunate sides of NAFTA, which I supported, was that it was supposed to improve air quality. It hasn't happened. So there has to be very, very strong labor protections and environmental protections.
  3. Last, wage disparities. I think it's critically important that any future trade agreement look what other countries have in terms of wages and find ways to promote equity in those wage disparities. But we are in a global world.
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada
Feb 21, 2007

It's not enough for our next President to be able to talk union politics in front of an audience, to give speeches at the local union hall, to walk a day in a union member's shoes, or even to walk a picketline. Words without action mean nothing. Bill Richardson has a long, proven record of walking the walk, standing in solidarity with America's working families.

And while we've seen unions choosing other candidates already, remember 2004, because unions can be wrong.

For more information go here to see Bill Richardson's AFL-CIO candidate questionnaire.

Ken Camp :: 9:30 AM :: Comments (19) :: Digg It!