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W. Va. rally kicks off campaign to inform union veterans about positions of candidates

date: 
July 11, 2008
For immediate release?: 
 

CHARLESTON, W. VA.--Over 700 union members who are military veterans, their families and other union members rallied here today as part of a nationwide effort to include veterans’ and working family issues in the 2008 campaign.  

    “Just as working families built America, so are we the ones who defend it,” said United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam. “The sons and grandsons, daughters and granddaughters of working Americans are serving right now to defend our freedom. They put their lives on the line every day, just as their parents and grandparents did before them.

    “We must make sure that all these generations of defenders of freedom have the opportunity to live the American dream they fought so hard for,” Roberts said.

    “As veterans, we honor and respect the service and sacrifice of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to our nation,” Roberts said. “But there is little to respect about his time in public office when it comes to his record on issues of importance to working families–including veterans.

    “For example, not only has Sen. McCain opposed increasing veterans’ benefits for four years running, he also opposed the new G.I. Bill in Congress,” Roberts said. “That’s not the kind of leadership veterans have a right to expect from someone who would be the Commander-in-Chief.”

    Roberts said that veterans are working and retired Americans just like anyone else, with the same concerns about good jobs, decent health care, retirement security and a government that cares about working and middle-income Americans.

    “On issue after issue, the difference between Sen. McCain and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) could not be more clear,” Roberts said. “Whether it is promoting good American jobs instead of shipping them overseas; expanding health care coverage to millions of Americans instead of proposing solutions that would bring an end to employer-provided health care; or strengthening Social Security so that it will be sound for generations to come instead of putting the retirement hopes and dreams of millions at risk on Wall Street, Barack Obama stands with working Americans and John McCain stands against us.

    “And especially important for UMWA members, Sen. Obama is far and away more supportive of the continued use of coal as a strong part of our nation’s energy mix well into the future,” Roberts said. “Sen. Obama is from a coal state, and he understands the importance of coal to our nation’s economy and the economic impact coal mining brings to the communities where our members and their families live. His commitment to funding for the development and implementation of clean coal technology far outweighs that of Sen. McCain.”

    Roberts announced the formation of the UMWA Veterans Leadership Committee, which will work in conjunction with the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council to inform and educate military veterans who are union members about the candidates’ positions.  

    “We leave from this rally as the shock troops in the battle to bring the truth about what is at stake in this election to union military veterans, their families and all union members,” Roberts said. “UMWA members–indeed, all union members–have asked a vital question of politicians for decades: ‘Which side are you on?’ In this election, the answer to that question is very clear, and we’re going to do whatever we can to make sure every one of the 13 million union members in the United States understands that Sen. Obama is the candidate on our side when they go to the polls on election day.”

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