Delegates Hear a Politician Who Makes Sense

August 26, 2003

68th National UE Convention Daily Summaries Tuesday Morning, August 26th, 2003

General Secretary-Treasurer Bruce Klipple gave the third partial credentials report.

Marianne Hart, District 10, and Ruth Hollabaugh, District Seven, co-conveners of the Publicity and Education Committee introduced Diana Alexander-Jones, Local 155, and Lynda Leech, Local 618, who presented the committee’s report, "Education to Build and Expand Strong Rank-and-File Organization."

Lynda Leech shared her experiences in putting out leaflets and newsletters. She recommended the use of creative, light-hearted approaches built around holiday themes, but with a zinger aimed at the company. Gear newsletters to what’s going on in the shop and community, Leech advised.

The report was adopted without further discussion. The committee was dismissed with the thanks of the convention.

Next, the convention heard from United States Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. He challenged delegates to consider "a new vision for America," and to have a dramatic impact on the presidential race.

The debate going on now in the Democratic Party is about "narrow choices and false choices," Kucinich suggested. The debate is about what type of private insurance will be available, "not whether we should create a transformation of a system that has obviously failed;" about fixing NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, not about getting out.

Howard Dean, the physician running for the Democratic nomination, regards a single-payer plan as "tilting at windmills." "When a doctor says that, it’s time to get a second opinion!" Kucinich said.

Why would anyone knowing the suffering of people lacking adequate insurance coverage face the American people and say that they can’t change the health-care system? Kucinich asked. He stated that a goal of his campaign is "to move forward the goal of a single-payer universal health system."

As president, Kucinich pledged to put the Justice Department to work to break up the monopolies. "It’s time to not only give lip service to workers’ rights, we have to make a strong stand on the right to a job." To applause, the candidate said, "my first act in office will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO." The WTO covers intellectual property rights but not workers’ rights, he said. "CDs have more of a right than you do," Kucinich said.

The candidate accused Pentagon spending of being out of control. Missile systems that fail tests continue to be funded, while schools that fail tests don’t get money. "Dean says he won’t touch Pentagon spending but he’s for a balanced budtget. Do the math," Kucinich said. The candidate said he would cut military spending by 50 percent and transfer the funds to education for children. His presidency, Kucinich said, "will be about restoring the dignity of the American worker. We have a right to a job, decent wages and benefits, the hope of owning a home, of sending children to a decent college." To prolonged applause, Kucinich declared, "We have to let the people know we have the ability to create the America of our dreams, we have the capacity to do it."

"I have full confidence that the UE, with your reputation for being able to stand where no one else will, will be able to challenge powers that seem unlimited," the candidate said. He urged delegates to put "a people’s president in a workers’ White House." The Congressman received a prolonged standing ovation.

Seconds after the Congressman left the convention hall following a prolonged standing ovation, delegate John Thompson, Local 690, rose to move the convention’s adoption of a statement of support for the Kucinich candidacy. The motion was quickly seconded, the national officers tendered no objection, and the delegates gave assent in a hearty voice vote.

Recognizing that the union has never made a presidential primary endorsement, the statement continues: "we are, however proud to strongly urge UE rank-and-file members to seriously consider [Kucinich’s] campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination."

Kucinich, the statement reads, "is to be commended for his participation in the primary contests. His campaign effort is injecting into the primary process a sense of urgency with regard to the need to tackle the various crises facing working people, including the imperative to remove Bush from office in the November 2004 election."

The statement recognizes that Rep. Kucinich "has been a reliable friend and ally of our union" in northeastern Ohio and that his positions on key issues "all mirror UE policy as ratified by our rank and file."

The convention also approved a motion that a collection be taken later for the Kucinich campaign.

Delegates then attended a series of workshops, both in the morning and afternoon.


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