John Edwards on Jobs
2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)
A: What is fair to think is that we have had a trade policy that has cost America--my father, who worked in a mill for 37 years so that we could have a better life than he had, that mill that he worked in is gone. Jobs all across Iowa are gone. And the reason is because America has catered to the interests of corporate profits, not the interests of the American middle class, not the interests of American workers, and not the interests of these manufacturing jobs. America, to be competitive over the long term, needs a trade policy that works, that looks out for the interests of the middle class.
A: Well, first, we need a president of the United States who’s actually willing to walk on the White House lawn and say the word “union.” Second, we need a president of the United States who will explain to the American people that the union movement helped build the great middle class in the United States of America and they will be crucial to building the middle class and strengthening the middle class in the future. We have well over 50 million people in this country who would like to join a union. If we really want to strengthen and grow economic security, we must strengthen and grow the organized labor movement. In order to do that, we need to change the law. If you can join the Republican Party by signing your name to a card, every worker in America should be able to join a union by signing their name to a card.
Dennis Kucinich, in contrast, wants to put people without jobs to work rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure--bridges, tunnels, roads--at a time when many politicians in both parties are desiring to sell them off; his program would put people of New Orleans to work rebuilding their own city and its water defenses.
I intend to explain to America how important unions and organized labor is to the future and the economic security of this country. Who’s been with you in the crunch? In the last few years, 200 times I have walked picket lines. I have helped organize thousands of workers with 23 national unions. I have worked with employers.
GRAVEL: Oh, yes, I would, but I would say that we don’t need a minimum wage; we need a living wage. We don’t have that in this country because of what they passed.
DODD: I don’t think I could live on the minimum wage, but I’m a strong advocate to seeing to it that we increase it at least to $9 or $10.
OBAMA: We could afford to do it for a few years. Most folks can’t. And that’s why we’ve got to fight and advocate for [an increase].
Q: Would you serve at minimum wage?
RICHARDSON: Yes, I would.
BIDEN: I couldn’t afford to stay in the Congress for the minimum wage. But if I get a second job, I’d do it.
KUCINICH: I think we need to increase the minimum wage and so all my neighbors can get an increase in their wages.
Q: So would you work for it?
KUCINICH: I would. But I wouldn’t want to.
Some willing workers cannot find jobs without skills, experience, or references. We know that innovative programs can help these workers. And we know--because we have seen it work--that the government can create short-term jobs to serve as stepping-stones, helping people work their way out of poverty now and get the experience they need for better jobs in the future.
People seem to forget, when they talking about all the great jobs lost in America, that those jobs weren’t great jobs before the unions. It was the unions that went out and fought for good wages, good healthcare, good benefits.
We ought to ban the hiring of permanent replacements for strikers, and make that the law of the land.
We need to strengthen and grow the middle class in this country. And one of the most important tools for doing that is to organize, organize, organize. I have been all over this country, organizing thousands of workers into unions, walking picket lines. So thank you for what all of you do every day.
A job should be a bridge out of poverty-an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. But for America’s minimum wage workers, especially those with families, it is not. Today, a minimum wage worker earns just under $11,000 annually-about $5,000 less than the amount needed to lift a family of three out of poverty.
Although Americans overwhelmingly support raising the federal minimum wage, the Bush Administration and Republican Congressional leaders have repeatedly blocked attempts to raise the current federal rate of $5.15 per hour-even though it was established almost a decade ago.
CHENEY: The data he’s using is old data. It’s from 2003. It doesn’t include any of the gains that we’ve made in the last years. We’ve added 1.7 million jobs to the economy.
FACT CHECK: Both Edwards and Cheney quoted selective and misleading figures about jobs. Edwards said 1.6 million private sector jobs and 2.7 million manufacturing jobs had been lost during the Bush administration. Both figures are accurate, but omit the growth in employment by federal, state and local governments. The net loss in total employment is actually 913,000 as of August, the most recent figures available. Cheney claimed Edwards was using old data from 2003, which wasn’t the case.
A: Kerry & I believe we have a moral responsibility not to leave trillions of debt to our children & our grandchildren. We’re going to roll back tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year. We want to keep the tax cuts that are in place for people who make less than $200,000 a year and give additional tax cuts to those middle-class families, tax cuts for health care, tax cuts to help families pay for their college tuition, tax cuts for child care. These families are struggling and hurting, and they need more tax relief, not less tax relief. We also want to get rid of some of the bureaucratic spending in Washington. We also want to close some corporate loopholes. We can’t eliminate this deficit in 4 years. We’re in too deep a hole. But we can cut the deficit in half. And if we move, we can move this country back on a path to fiscal responsibility.
CHENEY: There’s no better antidote to poverty than a good, well-paying job that allows somebody to take care of their own family. To do that, we have to make America the best place in the world to do business. We’ve got to deal effectively with tax policy. We’ve got to reduce the litigation costs that are built into our society. We’ve got to provide the adequate medical care and make certain that we can, in fact, create the opportunities that are vital to that process.
EDWARDS: 4 million more Americans have fallen into poverty during the Bush presidency. They’re for outsourcing jobs. Bush says over and over that the outsourcing of millions of American jobs is good. We’re against it. We want to get rid of tax cuts for companies sending jobs overseas. We want to balance this budget, get back to fiscal responsibility. And we want to invest in the creative, innovative jobs of the future.
A: I believe that low-income working people deserve better and support an increase in the minimum wage of at least $1.50.
A: We’ll have a national venture capital fund that will help give you the seed money to a new business in where we need to bring jobs. If you have an existing business or industry, and you’re willing to locate in where we desperately need jobs, we will help you do that. We’re going to change the tax system so that what Bush is doing now, which is putting the burden on the middle class and on working families.
EDWARDS: My belief is we have to stand by our farmers. It’s been a huge issue in my state of North Carolina. I have specifically proposed that we stop subsidies for millionaire farmers. I don’t think we should do that, and I don’t think we need to be doing that.
To: Labor Secretary Elaine Chao
Dear Secretary Chao:
We write to express our serious concerns about the Department's proposed regulation on white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act. These sweeping changes could eliminate overtime pay protections for millions of American workers.
We urge you not to implement this new regulation that will end overtime protections for those currently eligible. Under current law, the FLSA discourages employers from scheduling overtime by making overtime more expensive. According to a GAO study, employees exempt from overtime pay are twice as likely to work overtime as those covered by the protections. Our citizens are working longer hours than ever before – longer than in any other industrial nation. At least one in five employees now has a work week that exceeds 50 hours. Protecting the 40-hour work week is vital to balancing work responsibilities and family needs. It is certainly not family friendly to require employees to work more hours for less pay.
Overtime protections clearly make an immense difference in preserving the 40-hour work week. Millions of employees depend on overtime pay to make ends meet and pay their bills for housing, food, and health care. Overtime pay often constitutes 20-25% of their wages. These workers will face an unfair reduction in their take-home pay if they can no longer receive their overtime pay.
We urge you not to go forward with any regulation that denies overtime pay protections to any of America's currently eligible hard-working men and women.
As the federation of America’s unions, the AFL-CIO includes more than 13 million of America’s workers in 60 member unions working in virtually every part of the economy. The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation. To accomplish this mission we will build and change the American labor movement.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
|Other candidates on Jobs:||John Edwards on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader