DELEGATE FORUM -- DAY 2
August 27, 1996
The delegates responded to these other questions:
A question from W. Gary Wagner of Tucson, AZ:
Labor Relations and the Democratic Party
The world has changed. It seems likely that the attractiveness of more centrist positions on social issues signals a general desire to re-emphasize the importance of education and hard work as prerequisites to personal and social well-being. This requires, among other things, that labor keeps a greater share of the wealth it generates.
Will the Convention address the issue of labor relations - both the need and the potential for reform? And if not, why not?
The delegates respond:
John K. Bailey, Charleston, West Virginia
You may have seen last night that we had all of the union workers who built the convention facilities inside of the United Center up on stage, chanting "Union Yes" along with all of the delegates. You DID NOT see that in San Diego at the Republican convention, and that's no accident. I come from a state that has a long labor tradition, and still has a very strong labor organization. Democrats really are the party of working people, and if we ever lose the vote of ordinary, working class Americans, it is because we have gotten too caught up in the "hot button" issues of gay rights, gun control, or abortion.
What really should matter most to people is whether they have a government that is concerned with their daily economic struggles: making sure that they have affordable health care, helping them find loans to buy a home or send their children to college, or providing assistance when they are out of work. That is what the Democratic Party stands for: Bill Clinton expanded the student loan program, which the Republicans want to cut; tax changes under the Clinton administration LOWERED taxes for working people. And President Clinton and the Democrats will and do remember that working people are the basis of the party.
Labor will continue to have a strong voice if Bill Clinton is re-elected. If he's not, you sure won't hear a big thank you to the construction workers at a Dole inauguration.
Randy Horiuchi, Salt Lake City, Utah
While the convention presentations may not squarely address the issue of labor relations reform, you can bet that discussions regarding the state of labor are going on as we visit on the Internet. There are a number of issues regarding wages, working conditions, labor law reform and a host of other labor related topics that are generating discussion. Just yesterday, we saw a massive labor rally on the steps of the Thompson Center focusing on wages. Meanwhile, across the street, some Chicago firefighters were protesting the treatment of firefighters by the city.
Greg Martin, Keene, N.H.
Today we are discussing the Democratic platform, and a large portion of it deals with the issue of labor relations, either directly or indirectly. I cannot address the specifics of your question because it covers a wide range of discussion, but this issue is very much on the minds of the delegates because a good majority come from a labor background.
Last night I attended a reception sponsored by the UAW and Chrysler, highlighting the cooperation between labor and management in the auto manufacturers' sector. This is just one example of the ongoing discussion here at the convention on labor issues.
Onita Hamblin, Kansas City, Kansas
I am positive that they will address the issue. And as far as the need for reform, I am quite sure that if that is needed, the labor movement will do so.
Jacquelyn Saylor, Atlanta GA
Last night, the Superintendent of Seattle public schools spoke about the importance of education and the emphasis that we should be placing on our youth in public schools. It seems that even if you do work hard in school that you still may end up working in a minimum wage job. In the South, there are an obvious number of people who are only earning minimum wage and trying to support their families on a mere $4.25.
The recent increase in the wage will surely help many families, but I think it needs to be raised even more. The livable wage puts an emphasis on family values and what people really need to support themselves in America.
There have been and there will be several speakers who have and will address the issue of wages. I think both parties agree that the minimum wage is too low, at least in their consciences, but the Democratic Party is the only one that is trying to work towards a better wage.
Penfield Tate, Denver, CO
It has and will continue to do so. The party will probably oppose permanent worker replacement legislation and similar measures. More importantly, we recognize the need people have to know that their efforts are not in vain. It is difficult to support the concept of "workfare " if the work does not result in a living wage, affordable daycare and health care.
Treva Tumbleson, Ashland, Oregon
I believe that labor issues are and will be addressed. We have already addressed the issue in various forms. There have been many union meetings. There have been speakers from the labor movements. This is an important relationship. I believe that unions will always be strong supporters of Democrats and vice versa.