By James Stem –
UTU National Legislative Director –
UTU endorsements for President of the United States and election to Congress are undertaken with considerable thought, responsibility and accountability.
Prior to issuing these endorsements, we did an exhaustive job evaluating the candidates’ positions on transportation, collective bargaining, workplace safety, pensions and benefits, and Medicare.
The endorsements for President Obama and congressional candidates (which appear in the October issue of the UTU News and which also are accessible on the UTU home page) are based on the following:
* President Obama has demonstrated by action his strong support for Amtrak, transit, high speed rail, Social Security, Railroad Retirement, Medicare, workplace safety, collective bargaining and the right to organize and belong to a labor union.
* President Obama dedicated billions of dollars for high- and higher-speed passenger rail and public transit.
* President Obama supported and approved grant and loan programs for new and expanded freight transportation that railroads have used to improve operations, which have added hundreds of construction and operating jobs.
* President Obama supports a “hands-off” approach to Railroad Retirement, opposes privatization of Social Security, opposes the Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it, and supports public-employee pension plans and collective bargaining rights.
* Vice President Biden, who as a U.S. senator for 30 years, rode Amtrak more than any other fare-paying person in America, commuting daily between Washington, D.C., and his Delaware home. He has a lifetime UTU Senate voting record of 97 percent on issues vital to UTU members.
* Mitt Romney, by contrast, emphatically promises to eliminate all funding for Amtrak and high-speed rail.
* Mitt Romney supports the Republican platform approved in Tampa in August, which takes money from transit and rail to pour more concrete for highways.
* Mitt Romney has pledged to eliminate regulations that benefit unions and to regulate unions so they cannot effectively represent their members. He supports national right-to-work (for-less) legislation, which would drive down wages across America.
* Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choice, Paul Ryan, is the author of a conservative Republican budget proposal that turns Medicare into a voucher program. Instead of guaranteed lifetime medical benefits, beneficiaries would be given an inadequate lump sum to buy private insurance, and pay the rest out of pocket.
* The Paul Ryan-authored budget proposal would “conform Railroad Retirement benefits to those of Social Security.” If this becomes law, our retirement date would move from age 60 to 67, and we would lose our occupational disability and other Railroad Retirement benefits.
Returning President Obama and Vice President Biden to office is not enough. We must also work to prevent conservative Republicans from gaining control of the Senate and retaining control of the House of Representatives.
After reviewing the records and pledges of President Obama and Gov. Romney, the choice was an easy one and is why we proudly endorse Barack Obama and Joe Biden for another term.
President Obama cannot fulfill his promises to working families without the support of Congress.
We encourage you to consider your job security, wages, benefits, Railroad Retirement, Social Security, Medicare, workplace safety and collective bargaining rights carefully prior to casting your vote Nov. 6.