When Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, he trumpeted her husband’s union membership: “The person I’m about to introduce to you was a union member and is married to a union member, and understands the problems, the hopes and the values of working people,” he said. That day, and again last night, Palin also emphasized that her husband is “a proud member of the United Steelworkers Union.”
Conservatives are hoping the reference will play well in Michigan and Ohio. But the United Steelworkers union (USW) isn’t so pleased. USW President Leo Gerard noted that just because Todd Palin is a union member doesn’t mean that Palin is automatically qualified to represent labor interests:
It is important to realize that while the governor’s husband is a member of a union, this does not automatically qualify her for an on-the-job training program to become a heartbeat away from the presidency. And while her husband is one of 850,000 dues-paying members of the steelworkers union, it does nothing to absolve Sen. McCain of his long history of anti-union sentiment and anti-worker actions.
In fact, McCain’s hostility to unions and union priorities runs deep:
— McCain voted to block the Employee Free Choice Act, making it easier for workers to unionize. [6/26/07]
— McCain voted to filibuster a minimum wage hike last year. [1/24/07]
— McCain voted against a bill protecting discrimination against workers who go on strike, effectively allowing companies to hire permanent replacements for striking workers. [S. 55, 7/13/94]
— McCain voted against an amendment providing more effective remedies to victims of gender discrimination in the payment of wages. [7/17/07]
Last night, Gerard demanded that Palin “stop using USW as a prop.” Noting McCain’s opposition to the top priorities on USW’s agenda, Gerard asked Palin:
Are you with McCain – and against workers – on these issues? If so, you need to stop using your husband’s membership in the USW as a prop, because then his union card cannot possibly cover up your or John McCain’s worker-savaging positions.