Vice President Al Gore sought to cement the Clinton administration’s occasionally rocky ties with the labor movement Monday by delivering a rousing union-boosting speech at a Labor Day rally.
“It’s time for a new unionism,” Gore said. “It’s time for a new effort to organize working men and women in this country.”
Gore traveled to the banks of the Mississippi River to march in a parade and appear with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Labor Secretary Alexis Herman at a rally attended by more than 700 activists.
Ties between President Clinton and organized labor have occasionally been strained, but there was little notice taken of those differences during Monday’s parade and rally.
Sweeney declared that Gore “has been a singular voice on behalf of the right of every worker to form or join a union free from harassment or intimidation.”
Gore issued a ringing endorsement of organized labor.
“It means a new awareness of the fact that wages need to go up when productivity and profits go up,” he said.
Organized labor is a key Democratic constituency and Gore will be working overtime to build ties as he prepares an expected race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000.
He picked a Labor Day celebration in Illinois, which holds an important early primary, and just across the river from Iowa, where precincts caucuses launch the nomination process.
In making his case Monday, Gore made it clear that he’ll side with labor should he seize the party’s nomination.
The union leaders also made it clear that both Clinton and Gore went a long way to healing any rift when the administration refused to intervene in the Teamster’s strike against United Parcel Service.
Herman lauded Sweeney as a leader who re-energized the nation’s largest labor organization. But Gore was the focus of most attention because he’s generally considered the front-runner for the party’s nomination.