Pridemore, Heck split labor support

State Sen. Craig Pridemore came out swinging last week with a declaration that he supports the Employee Free Choice Act. A top priority of organized labor also known as “card check,” the federal bill would allow workers to decide whether to hold a secret ballot to vote on formation of a union after a majority of employees have signed union authorization cards, or to certify a union based on the cards alone.

“Over the past three decades we’ve seen a steady assault on the workers who are the engines of our economy,” Pridemore said in a statement. “We need to honor the tradition of labor in our country and provide security for working families during these uncertain and difficult times.”

Pridemore, who is counting on union money and volunteers to boost his campaign, noted that he was raised in a union family; his father was a millworker, his mother a teacher.

He challenged Denny Heck, his Democratic opponent in the 3rd Congressional District race, to say where he stands on the rights of labor.

Pridemore’s campaign followed up the next day with an announcement that he had won the endorsement of the Pulp and Paper Workers Union, noting that he also had the backing of unions representing local firefighters, state employees and longshore workers.

But on the same day Heck, who seems to campaign without breaking a sweat, announced that he had secured the endorsements of the Machinists Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77, both influential in Washington politics.

“Denny advocates for a strong national industrial policy and a rational trade policy to level the playing field for American workers,” said Larry Brown of the Machinists Union.

“Denny understands the challenges in these tough economic times and offers a common sense approach,” said IBEW’s Bob Guenther.

Guenther added that Heck had made it clear in an interview with the Thurston Lewis Mason Central Labor Council — not, apparently, in response to Pridemore’s challenge — that he too supports the Employee Free Choice Act.

Kathie Durbin

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