Statement by AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney on AFL-CIO Decision
Not to Consider Presidential Primary Endorsement in October
September 30, 2003

After extensive consultation with our affiliated unions, I have decided not to call for a General Board meeting at this time to consider an endorsement in the Democratic presidential primary race.

While a number of unions have endorsed, or indicated that they will endorse, Rep. Dick Gephardt -- and are making plans to create a Labor for Gephardt organization -- other unions find that their members are still considering this issue and are not yet ready to have their union decide such an important question. The broad support for Dick Gephardt represents the extraordinary appreciation of all our unions for his outstanding leadership for working families for many years. I share that appreciation and admiration. Dick has been a real friend of working people and a powerful voice for working families on issue after issue, including against the threat of unfair trade.

The AFL-CIO requires that an endorsed candidate receive the broadest support possible -- two-thirds of our 13 million members. Only twice before has the AFL-CIO endorsed a candidate prior to the beginning of the nomination process.

Affiliated unions are now free to make an endorsement at any time. The AFL-CIO will revisit the question of a federation endorsement in the future.

Meanwhile, the unions of the AFL-CIO will continue to focus our efforts on the largest education and mobilization effort in our history for the 2004 elections. There is no question that working Americans have suffered tremendous losses under the Bush Administration. Since President Bush came into office, our nation has lost 3.3 million jobs in the private sector, three million more people live in poverty and the ranks of the uninsured have risen by more than 3.7 million. The Bush Administration has launched a full-frontal attack on workers’ overtime pay and health and safety standards and has handed out millionaire tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of average working people. The union movement is united in defeating George W. Bush and bringing working people’s values back into the White House.