The Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh is quite an event as you can imagine. The relationship between Labor and this wonderful city goes back at least 120 + years to the formation of AF of L trade union’s founding in 1881 and the Battle of Homestead in 1892 through to the modern day. While many people would argue that organized labor’s role in the political process has diminished since Reagan, Pittsburgh is one place where this is definitely not the case.
It is with that back drop that Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator John Edwards, along with his wife Elizabeth, chose our fair city to mark this Labor Day celebration.
Last week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the support of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers along with that of the United Transportation Union. In a surprise, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., picked up the endorsement of the International Association of Firefighters, and former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who is poised to receive the endorsement of the United Steelworkers today, won the backing of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.While there is debate on the power of endorsements, the efforts of the candidates suggest they still matter. It seems as if would-be presidential candidates have been courting union leaders since the last election ended.
If anything, those early results suggest there is no consensus “labor candidate,” in the Democratic field.
Regardless of whether he wins or not I have to say, it was a pleasure getting the opportunity to see him in person. Even more impressive was the kindness Elizabeth Edwards showed in reaching out to my daughter Gabrielle. It was a great honor to see them both and we wish them both the best of luck in their race for the White House.
UPDATE: It would appear that we can now change the “poised to” in the text above to “received” as John Edwards has officially received the endorsement of two of America’s most powerful unions.
The United Steelworkers (USW) and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) today endorsed Senator John Edwards for president. Following the Thursday endorsement of Edwards by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in America, the two endorsements announced today at a Labor Day rally in Pittsburgh with union members and their families give Edwards the largest bloc of union support so far—combined, more than 1.8 million members and retirees—among any of the presidential candidates.”I am especially honored to receive the support of the Steelworkers and Mine Workers unions,” said Edwards, “These are the workers who built the middle class in America, and they are the backbone of the American labor movement. They understand how important it is to fight back when jobs, safety, standards and our values are at risk—and they know what’s at stake in this election.”