|AFL-CIO ENDORSES GORE|
October 13, 1999
After heated lobbying and debate, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) endorsed Vice President Al Gore Wednesday, the first time the group has thrown its support to a primary candidate since 1984.
Posted Wednesday, 5:30pm E.D.T.
With former Senator Bill Bradley, Gore's only rival for the Democratic nomination, gaining strength in the polls, Gore supporters hope the endorsement will bring with it the support of the labor federation's 13 million members.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said Gore's politics were a good fit for organized labor.
"We believe the Vice President has a strong voting record. He knows the concerns of workers, he identifies strongly with the issues of advocating an increase in the minimum wage, protecting Social Security, addressing the health care needs of workers and their families," Sweeney said.
Gore accepted the union federation's support at the AFL-CIO's biennial convention in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon.
"I thank the working men and women of the AFL-CIO for their support," Gore said. "With the AFL-CIO by my side, I know we're going to win this nomination next summer -- and we will win the Presidency next November. I pledge to you today: as President of the United States, I will be the voice for working families."
In its endorsement resolution, the AFL-CIO said, "More than any other national leader, Al Gore has used the power of his office to defend the freedom of workers to choose a union, free from interference by their employers."
Though a majority of the AFL-CIO's 68 affiliated groups agreed to support Gore, two unions -- the Teamsters and the United Auto Workers -- said the endorsement came too early in the election season.
"In the South we always say, 'Don't wrap that pig, weigh it,'" Kentucky Teamster Jerry Vincent told the Associated Press. "And we'd like to have it weighed before it's wrapped."
But Douglas Dority, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said picking Gore now was the right choice.
"Al Gore has gone around this country as the Vice President and spoke out for workers' rights to organize, and that's a key ingredient," Dority said. "He's absolutely electable."
Though Gore picked up the AFL-CIO nod, Bradley spokesman Eric Hauser told the AP the former Senator hasn't lost the labor vote yet.
"The case Bill Bradley made to labor will continue to resonate," Hauser said. "Union members saw -- and see -- a lot of strength in his candidacy."