Few Republicans, if any, will get an election-year endorsement from Utah's AFL-CIO.
That became apparent Thursday during the opening session of the 32nd annual Utah State AFL-CIO convention in the Tri-Arc Hotel. Actual endorsement of candidates for national, state, congressional and local political office was expected Friday morning.Based on remarks by Ed Mayne, state AFL-CIO president, it isn't likely that any Republicans will get much support from the organization this year. In fact, Mayne said it is time to elect candidates who are on the side of organized labor rather than the ones who have tried to undermine the union movement.
Mayne purposely left out any reference to Gov. Norm Bangerter because a debate between the governor and Democratic challenger Ted Wilson was scheduled for Friday. "After the debate I will give you a report on that office and I can assure you you won't be disappointed," Mayne said.
The last 12 months has been a difficult time for Utah workers and labor unions, Mayne said, because the legislature leaned heavily toward big business interests with more profits and less support for workers in mind. "What we need in the legislature is balance so debate can be held and decisions won't be made behind closed doors," he said, referring to the Republican majorities.
Mayne said several legislative bills affecting workers were introduced, but many were passed only after the negative parts were removed. He referred to HB218, which will keep the Employer's Reinsurance Fund solvent, but noted that bill was introduced in spite of SB45 having been worked on by labor and management for nine months.
He accused management of pulling "an end run" on SB45 by introducing HB218, but promised the newly formed Injured Workers Association of Utah will work hard in the next legislative session to "correct many of the wrongs of the previous Legislature."
Mayne criticized the news media for their coverage of the Legislature. The Utah news media are lazy for not going behind the scenes to cover many important issues involving the working people, he said.
He also criticized the governor and the Legislature for holding so many special sessions. Mayne said Utahns want a part-time citizen Legislature and with so many special sessions it is becoming a full-time group of "buffoons." Organized labor made some strides last year, Mayne said, in the face of adversity - namely Republican domination of most of the state, congressional and local government offices. He said labor unions need to agitate, educate and organize "to make this state a good place in which to live."
Mayne called for election of a president who will be on labor's side, modernization of labor laws, a commitment to education, training for unemployed people, increased help in child care, a higher minimum wage and more money spent on highways, sewer systems and water systems.
Brian Moss, a Democratic candidate opposing Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the senator is the "number one public enemy of Utah workers." He said recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that while personal income has increased in the higher brackets, people in the middle income group and the poor lost ground.
Companies are making record profits, but the working people aren't sharing in those profits, Moss said. "Sen. Hatch has destroyed the ability of the working people to earn a living," Moss said.
Friday morning, four people received the George Meany Awards for their involvement in Scouting. They are Calvin J. Udy, Farmington, a sales representative for US WEST Communications; Thomas D. Busby, Pleasant Grove, a school teacher; Paul Webb, Sandy, a warehouseman; and Chet Howard, Provo, a driver for United Parcel Service.