USW President Leo W. Gerard and USW Member Jim Savage Discuss Clinton and Trade on Eve of Democratic National Convention

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

I was with USW member Jim Savage – and about 500 other union members from across the country – at a hotel meeting room in Philadelphia last night when AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka fired us up to promote our values these next few months.

“We will work together, we will march together, and come November, we will win together,” Trumka said to cheers from the crowd.

To do that, Trumka said each person in the room had to talk to union brothers and sisters about Hillary Clinton.

“It is our job to educate union members about Hillary Clinton’s commitment to our issues,” Trumka said. “Hillary Clinton shares our values and our vision. When we talk to Hillary Clinton, she listens. When we talk, she changes and adjusts. She is running to change America so that all of us prosper.”

Later, standing outside the Downtown hotel in the 90 degree heat, Jim told me that despite being elected as a delegate for Bernie Sanders, he’s ready to accept Trumka’s challenge and persuade his 800 brothers and sisters at USW Local 10-1, most from Philadelphia Energy Solutions, where he has worked 23 years, to vote for Hillary.

Jim, who served as president of Local 10-1 for nine years, said Bernie Sanders’ candidacy very effectively moved Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform to the left, and he’s happy with the result. “I am over the moon with how he did. We adopted a Bernie Sanders platform. It is what we stand for as Democrats.”

Just like Sanders, Jim has endorsed Hillary. “She is absolutely qualified. She has always supported labor in her entire political life.”

“No matter who is elected president, I will have to fight to get what I want,” he explained to me. “And if I look and Hillary and the candidate from the other party, I know who I have the best chance of persuading. And it’s not him.”

Jim pointed out that Hillary changed her mind and ended up opposing the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) after labor leaders pointed out its faults and after she received thousands of post cards and phone calls from union members.

Like many of us, Jim recognizes that Donald Trump has used trade issues in a calculated attempt to divide labor. “On trade, Trump is talking our issue, but he makes his own products overseas,” Jim pointed out. How is that good for American workers?

Then, Jim noted, in Trump’s acceptance speech, “he said he would put business leaders in charge of negotiating trade deals. Business leaders haven’t suffered from trade deals. Workers have.” So the result under Trump would be the same – or worse – than it is now, when corporate honchos already are involved in trade negotiations.

At the end of Trumka’s speech last night, he said this: “When we all stand together, nothing and no one can defeat us.”

Jim Savage said he will be out there working to make sure as many USW brothers and sisters as possible are standing together with Hillary Clinton in November because he believes Hillary Clinton will stand with us on issues important to labor, including the crucial issue of trade.


Photos by Steve Dietz

Leo W. Gerard also is a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Committee and chairs the labor federation’s Public Policy Committee. President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiation and the President's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee 2.0. He serves as co-chairman of the BlueGreen Alliance and on the boards of Campaign for America’s Future and the Economic Policy Institute.  He is a member of the executive committee for IndustriALL Global Labor federation and was instrumental in creating Workers Uniting, the first global union. Follow @USWBlogger

Posted In: From the USW International President