[“If there is going to be class struggle in the United States,
it’s time that the working class got on the offensive and won that
struggle,” Mr. Sanders said in an animated 45-minute speech.]
[https://portside.org/] 

 BERNIE SANDERS PICKS UP UNION ENDORSEMENT IN PITTSBURGH  
[https://portside.org/2019-08-27/bernie-sanders-picks-union-endorsement-pittsburgh]


 

 Julian Routh 
 August 26, 2019
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
[https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2019/08/26/Bernie-Sanders-pittsburgh-union-endorsement-united-electrical-radio-machine-workers-of-america/stories/201908260105]


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 _ “If there is going to be class struggle in the United States,
it’s time that the working class got on the offensive and won that
struggle,” Mr. Sanders said in an animated 45-minute speech. _ 

 Senator Bernie Sanders acknowledges the audience with UE National
President, Peter Knowlton, left, after delivering a speech to the 76th
UE National Convention in Pittsburgh, Lake Fong/Post-Gazette 

 

Vermont senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie
Sanders picked up the endorsement of the Pittsburgh-based United
Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America on Monday, moments
after calling for the working class to rise up and “tell the
corporate elite that this country belongs to all of us” at the
union’s annual convention Downtown.

Mr. Sanders, speaking to a few hundred union members at the Wyndham
Grand Hotel, compared the union’s message to that of his own
presidential campaign, saying that the U.S. cannot continue to be a
nation in which there’s a “huge gap between the very rich and
everybody else.”

“If there is going to be class struggle in the United States, it’s
time that the working class got on the offensive and won that
struggle,” Mr. Sanders said in an animated 45-minute speech.

The UE, which represents about 35,000 workers in a variety of
manufacturing and service-sector jobs, said it endorsed Mr. Sanders
because of his consistent involvement in the union’s strikes and
workplace actions, including his support of members’ efforts in Erie
earlier this year to get a new contract with Wabtec Corp. after a
months-long dispute.

“Bernie was an outspoken supporter of UE Locals 506 and 618 in their
first contract struggle with their new employer, Wabtec in early
2019,” read a resolution adopted by the convention on Monday.
“Bernie reached out to UE to offer whatever assistance that members
needed and he could provide.”

Mr. Sanders congratulated the locals in his speech, deeming their
efforts a model for fighting the corporate greed that’s becoming
more common in America, with companies giving bonuses to executives
while demanding concessions from workers.

"You stood up and fought back," Mr. Sanders said of the workers, whose
nine-day strike in February garnered national attention and the
support of the Democratic senator.

The senator’s campaign for the presidency intersected with union
rights last week when he released a plan that he said would double
union membership in the U.S. by the end of his first term, if he wins.

Mr. Sanders’s labor plan would impose penalties on companies that
refuse to negotiate in good faith and prevent companies from
purposefully misclassifying employees as independent contractors or
denying them overtime by falsely labeling them supervisors, among
other things.

The policy proposals -- as well as Mr. Sanders’s appearances in
Western Pennsylvania in general -- strengthened one attendee’s views
on the candidate.

Bethany Hallam, the Democratic nominee for Allegheny County Council
at-large, said the 2020 Democratic race is now a toss-up in her mind
between Mr. Sanders and progressive counterpart Elizabeth Warren, the
senator from Massachusetts.

"We hear [Ms. Warren] has a plan for everything, but Bernie has the
most comprehensive union labor plan out of any candidate running for
the presidential nomination right now," Ms. Hallam said.

Echoing themes from his usual campaign stump speech, Mr. Sanders also
remarked that his ideals are not "pie in the sky," but reasonable. As
he said at his other Pittsburgh rally earlier this year, he claimed
that ideas that were deemed “too radical” during his losing 2016
bid for the presidency are now mainstream in the Democratic Party,
including raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and making public
colleges and universities tuition-free.

Mr. Sanders also criticized President Donald Trump repeatedly, calling
him a "pathological liar" and claiming he's waging a war on workers by
giving tax cuts to the rich and loading his administration with
billionaires, among other things.

With the endorsement, the UE -- which had endorsed Mr. Sanders in 2016
as well -- became one of the first national unions to step into the
2020 arena officially. The International Association of Fire Fighters
endorsed Vice President Joe Biden
[https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2019/04/29/Joe-Biden-president-2020-democrat-union-endorsement-pittsburgh/stories/201904290121]
in Pittsburgh earlier this summer.

UE members from across the country flocked to the convention in
Pittsburgh, which runs through Thursday.

Jonathan Martin, a 31-year-old welder from Virginia, said he is drawn
to Mr. Sanders's message that workers have to stand up and fight for a
better standard of living.

"The fact that working American citizens in this country don’t have
enough money to live, provide or stay ahead of the game -- we gotta do
something about that,” Mr. Martin said. “Corporations are just
making too much money.”

A new national Monmouth poll, released on Monday a few hours after the
senator’s speech, put him in a virtual three-way tie with Ms. Warren
and Mr. Biden for the Democratic nomination. Mr. Sanders, whose
support jumped 6 percentage points from Monmouth's poll in June, came
in at 20% in the latest poll, with both Ms. Warren and Mr. Biden at
19%.

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