October 20, 1999
TO ALL UFCW CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
IN THE UNITED STATES
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The UFCW and its members must have a strong and effective voice in the political process. The issues that our members care about must be at the forefront of the 2000 election. We must have a candidate for President that stands with us and a candidate that can win in the general election.
Al Gore is that candidate. He stood with us on the right of workers to have a voice in the workplace. He has stood with us on comprehensive health care reform. He stood with us to protect OSHA and to give our members safe workplaces. He stood with us, and won with us, on the passage of the minimum wage, and family and medical leave legislation.
Now we are standing with Al Gore for President.
The UFCW International Executive Board voted unanimously on September 10, 1999 to endorse Al Gore. Our action paved the way for the AFL-CIO endorsement of Gore.
The Executive Board reviewed the issues, discussed the candidate, and debated the timing of the endorsement.
We had two good candidates in Bill Bradley and Al Gore--and, one tough choice. After careful deliberation we made the choice based on the record.Al Gore stood up and compiled a superior COPE voting record.Al Gore has been there for us. It was the time for us to be there for Al Gore. We looked at the timing of the endorsement. We had to consider two critical facts.Gore comes from a right-to-work state where it is tougher for a pro-worker candidate to win an election and still cast the right votes. Gore always took the political heat and stood with us.Al Gore stood up and led the counterattack when Newt Gingrich and the anti-worker leadership in Congress launched their assault on unions.
He compiled a higher COPE voting percentage than any other candidate for President.He led the fight to keep adequate funding for OSHA, the NLRB, and for enforcement of federal wage and hour laws--and, we won.Al Gore stood up and launched a crusade to give workers an unquestioned right to organize.
He led the fight to stop the anti-worker clique in Congress from dismantling every piece of progressive legislation passed in the last century--from Medicare to the 40-hour week--and, we won.When workers at Smithfield Packing in North Carolina were beaten, arrested, and fired for supporting the UFCW, he stood up with them at press conferences to condemn Smithfield and to demand stronger labor laws.Al Gore stood up and led the fight for passage of a minimum wage and Family and Medical Leave Act.
He worked with the UFCW Legal Department to propose administrative changes at the NLRB that would make it easier for workers to organize.He worked with the UFCW to lead the fight that brought passage of this legislation, when others said we could never win.Al Gore stood up for health care reform that would have guaranteed health benefits for all workers.He worked with the UFCW for health care reform that would have protected our union-negotiated plans, while giving us a level playing field by requiring that employers like Wal-mart pay the cost of health insurance.Al Gore stood up for equal opportunity.He made the hard choice to defend affirmative action, and to stop the gutting of workplace anti-discrimination laws. The UFCW was able to use these laws to win an $81 million discrimination suit against non-union Publix Supermarkets.
First, the media was spinning the story that if the AFL-CIO did not endorse, it would show a lack of support for Gore. That kind of story could seriously damage the Gore campaign and hurt his chances in the general election.
Second, the primary process is front-loaded. If we did not endorse now, we would cut ourselves out of the process.
We made a tough choice, because we are going to face a tough political year.
Now is the time for you and every UFCW local union in the U.S. to get active and mobilized for Election 2000. And informed, motivated, and active membership is the key to victory. Get started now. Let's put Al Gore in the White House.
Sincerely and fraternally,
United Food & Commercial Workers
International Union, AFL-CIO & CLC
1775 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006-1598