AFL-CIO Endorses Kerry, Despite Congressional Record

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - The AFL-CIO endorsed Democratic front-runner John Kerry Thursday, but Kerry's congressional record shows he has voted against labor leaders' interests in the past.

"Today we stand united in a common cause and that common cause is not just to defeat George Bush, but it is to put our country back on track, on the road of prosperity, the road of fairness, the road of jobs," Kerry said.

But according to research conducted by the Republican National Committee, Kerry in 1993 voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which many labor unions had opposed, and he voted against many other interests that labor leaders supported.

"NAFTA recognizes the reality of today's economy - globalization and technology," the Boston Globe quoted Kerry as saying in a Nov. 21, 1993 article. "Our future is not in competing at the low-level wage job; it is in creating high-wage, new technology jobs based on our skills and our productivity."

"NAFTA is not the problem," Kerry said in a Nov. 14, 2003 Boston Globe article. "Job loss is taking place without NAFTA. The hard reality is that as a nation we can't put our heads in the sand like ostriches."

Kerry also voted in 2000 for making permanent normalized trade relations with China. Afterwards, labor unions called Kerry's office to complain and ran negative ads in Massachusetts over the vote. Kerry voted ten times for expanding the fast track/trade promotion authority for the president, another issue opposed by union leaders.

Kerry voted several times to increase gas taxes, even though labor leaders opposed the proposal. He also voted against an amendment exempting pickup trucks from new fuel efficiency standards in 2002, which labor leaders opposed.

Despite labor leaders' support for deploying missile defense, Kerry voted five times against the proposal. Kerry also voted several times against exploration of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, though labor leaders supported the plan.

"Unfortunately, the Democrats have missed an opportunity here to come forth with a good plan, which provides jobs for this country," said Teamsters' President James P. Hoffa on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sept. 2, 2001.

"And all they really have is cardigan sweaters and dark rooms, and that's not the answer to the problems we face. We need more oil in this country. This is a concrete way to do it with the ANWR. And we also - I want to call on the senator [Kerry] not to filibuster. Let the process work," Hoffa added. However, the Teamsters boss joined another coalition of labor leaders earlier this week in endorsing Kerry's presidential bid.

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