John Edwards on Jobs

2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)

Trade policy should look out for manufacturing jobs

Q: You talk about your father and others who lost their jobs at textile mills. The idea that the US can become once again a major power in textile production-- isn’t it fair to think that no matter what our relationship with China, obviously poorer countries are going to be producing a lot of textiles in mills around the world, it’s just not what our economy should be specializing in at this time?

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.

Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR Dec 4, 2007

We need a president who’s willing to say the word “union”

Q: What do you see the role of president in protecting & encouraging union jobs?

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.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Create a million “stepping stones” jobs at minimum wage

Edwards would change the minimum wage to “at least $7.50 and hour.” He has a jobs program for the unemployed that sounds limited and vague. He would create a million “stepping stone jobs for workers who take responsibility” -- minimum wage jobs lasting up to twelve months, and in return, “workers must show up and work hard, stay off drugs, not commit any crimes, and pay child support.”

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.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 137 Nov 11, 2007

Change law so people can’t be fired legally for being gay

We have such work to do to keep loving couples together. [Under current law] an employer is able to say to an employee, “You are fired because of your sexual orientation,” and nothing can be done about it. Loving couples can be separated by immigration laws [just because they’re same-sex couples]. Someone can be brutally murdered, because of their sexual orientation, and not have that be a hate crime. We’re better than this. And we have to bring about the change that’s necessary in this country.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Treat CEO pensions exactly as we treat every other worker

We ought to treat the pensions and the retirement of the chairmen and CEOs of companies exactly the way we treat every other worker in the company.

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.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 8, 2007

Would accept minimum wage as president

Q: If you’re elected to serve as president, would you be willing to do this service for the next four years and be paid the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour?

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.

Source: [X-ref Clinton] 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate Jul 23, 2007

Strong unions can make services foundation of middle class

We must build an economy that values work. That means guaranteeing workers a meaningful right to organize. With strong unions, service jobs can be the foundation of the middle class, as manufacturing jobs once were. That means raising the minimum wage, which in 2006 reached its lowest point since 1955.

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.

Source: Ending Poverty in America, by John Edwards, p.260-261 Apr 2, 2007

Grow the union movement; unions made great jobs great

Since the 2004 election, I have been all over this country organizing workers into unions, because if we want to strengthen the middle class, if we want to lift millions of Americans out of poverty, one of the most critical pieces is to grow the union movement.

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.

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC Mar 14, 2007

Make joining unions easier; ban firing strikers

I’ve been running a poverty center at the University of North Carolina for the last couple of years. The most important anti-poverty movement in American history is the organized labor movement. We need to make it easier for workers to organize themselves into unions. If a Republican can join the Republican Party by signing their name to a card, any worker in America ought to be able to join a union by doing exactly the same thing. It’s nothing but democracy. It’s what we believe in.

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.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

Increase minimum wage at state level, since feds won’t do it

Because Republicans in Washington have not increased the minimum wage in over a decade, we are taking on the fight ourselves. The One America Committee is working with grassroots coalitions in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Montana and Missouri to organize and pass minimum wage ballot initiatives in 2006.

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.

Source: PAC website, www.OneAmericaCommittee.com, “Action” Nov 17, 2006

Labor unions are vital for the future of American workers

We don’t believe it’s right that a man or woman could be fired from the job for trying to organize a union in the workplace, so that working people actually have a voice. And this is something I take very personally. My mother and father have health care today because of the unions. My younger brother is a card-carrying member of IBEW; he and his family have health care today because of the union. We need real labor law reform in this country.
Source: 2005 Take Back America Conference Jun 2, 2005

FactCheck: 1.6 million jobs lost ignores federal employment

EDWARDS: Here’s what’s happened: In the time that they have been in office, in the last four years, 1.6 million private sector jobs have been lost, 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost.

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.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate analysis by FactCheck.org Oct 6, 2004

Keep tax cuts for middle class and pay down the debt

Q: How can Kerry guarantee that he absolutely will not raise taxes on anyone who earns under $200,000 a year and also cut the deficit in half?

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.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Get rid of tax cuts for companies sending jobs overseas

Q: What can you tell the poor and jobless that your administration will do to better their lives?

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.

Source: [X-ref Cheney] Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Provide tax breaks for companies that keep jobs in America

We can create good-paying jobs in this country again. We’re going to get rid of tax cuts for companies who are outsourcing your jobs and, instead, we’re going to give tax breaks to American companies that are keeping jobs right here in America. And we will invest in the jobs of the future to ensure that America stays ahead of the competition. And we’re going to do this because A job is about more than a paycheck; it’s about dignity and self-respect. We’re going to reward work, not just wealth.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

Greater protection for unionization

I support job training programs, an increase in the minimum wage, greater protection for unionization, and greater help for Americans balancing work and families.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Mar 3, 2004

Raise minimum wage to at least $6.65

Q: What increases, if any, do you favor in the $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage?

A: I believe that low-income working people deserve better and support an increase in the minimum wage of at least $1.50.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, “Minimum Wage” Jan 25, 2004

Help bring jobs to where they are most needed

Q: What is job creation plan for young people?

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.

Source: CNN “Rock The Vote” Democratic Debate Nov 5, 2003

Stand by our farmers-but end millionaire farmer subsidies

Q: Would you be willing to repeal farm subsidies if it helped poor farmers overseas gain a greater standard of living?

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.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Ban hiring permanent replacement workers for strikers

We need to empower working people to organize. We need labor law reform in this country. Things like card check neutrality, putting teeth in the law to make sure that those who violate the law during organizing campaigns are, in fact, held responsible. And I think we ought to make the hiring of permanent replacement workers for strikers--we ought to ban it. We ought to make it the law of the land tomorrow. We need to empower working people so that they have more voice, not less voice in this country.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Fair trade deals & closing corporate loopholes creates jobs

Good Jobs at Home. America has lost more than 2 million manufacturing jobs under George Bush. Edwards will create good jobs-negotiating only fair trade deals, closing loopholes for companies moving headquarters overseas, and creating tax breaks for companies that manufacture in America.
Source: Real Solutions For America, campaign booklet by John Edwards Aug 6, 2003

Invest in rural America

An Agenda for Rural America. While many in Washington just fly over rural America to get from one coast to the other, Edwards comes from rural America, and he offers real help for rural America-investing capital, introducing technology, and protecting the natural heritage.
Source: Real Solutions For America, campaign booklet by John Edwards Aug 6, 2003

Increase the minimum wage again

Edwards believes America’s workers deserve fair pay for their hard work. Today, the minimum wage, in real dollars, is worth less than it was in 1968. That is why Edwards has consistently voted for increasing the minimum wage and believes we need to increase it again, which is why he is currently cosponsoring a Senate bill to increase the minimum wage in the Senate.
Source: Campaign website, johnedwards2004.com, “Key Issues” Jul 17, 2003

Support unions; ban striker replacements

Labor has been a powerful force for good in this country and across the globe, and Edwards supports tougher penalties and stronger enforcement to protect workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain. Edwards also opposes permanent striker replacement because he believes we should not punish an employee with permanent job loss if he or she exercises a legally protected right to strike. Edwards has consistently earned high scores from labor unions for his votes on behalf of American workers
Source: Campaign website, johnedwards2004.com, “Key Issues” Jul 17, 2003

Voted NO on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress.

Vote to pass a resolution to give no enforcement authority to ergonomics rules submitted by the Labor Department during the Clinton Administration. These rules would force businesses to take steps to prevent work-related repetitive stress disorders
Reference: Bill S J Res 6 ; vote number 2001-15 on Mar 6, 2001

Voted NO on killing an increase in the minimum wage.

The Kennedy (D-MA) Amdt would have increased the minimum wage by $1 an hour over two years, to $5.65 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2001. The Kennedy Amdt would have also provided $9.5 billion in tax cuts over five years.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)50; N)48; NV)2
Reference: Motion to table Kennedy Amdt #2751; Bill S. 625 ; vote number 1999-356 on Nov 9, 1999

Protect overtime pay protections.

Edwards signed a letter from 43 Senators to the Secretary of Labor

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.

Source: Letter from 43 Senators to the Secretary of Labor 03-SEN4 on Jun 30, 2003

Rated 100% by the AFL-CIO, indicating a pro-union voting record.

Edwards scores 100% by the AFL-CIO on union issues

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.

Source: AFL-CIO website 03n-AFLCIO on Dec 31, 2003

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

Third Parties:
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
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010