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"I will vote against Right to Work"

In New York's 1st Congressional District, Rep. Zeldin (R-Shirley) shares union values

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 17, 2017

Today, union leaders, community leaders and special interest groups held a press conference to thank Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) for his vote and continued opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  Attendees at the press event included the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1108 who hosted the event, CWA 1104, Laborers Local 66, Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees (Suffolk AME), United Automobile Workers (UAW) Local 259, Plumbers Local 200, Teamsters, the Long Island Federation of Labor and a few others along with leaders from moveon.org and an environmental group.

At the press conference, the speakers thanked Zeldin for his opposition to the job killing trade bill and encouraged him to only support future trade bills that involve transparent negotiations that protect workers both here and abroad. The varied coalition had spent much of the last few years lobbying Zeldin to oppose the TPP. A common theme throughout was that even though many in the room came from the other side of the political spectrum from the Congressman, through talking and lobbying we can find common ground. “It is extremely important to have a Republican supporting us on this issue. You can’t base your relationships on party politics, it’s how they vote on the issue,” said CWA 1108 Political Director Michael Gendron.  Michael recoined “free trade,” to “fair trade.”

The press conference got some life when the floor was opened up to questions from the audience.  Newsday’s James Madore threw in a couple then it was labor’s turn. Brian Schneck, President of UAW Local 259, asked the Congressman if he would oppose a national Right to Work Law as well as a number of other anti-union pieces of legislation.  Zeldin said that he was opposed to a National Right to Work law and that if it came up before the Congress, he would vote against it.  He further said “I would tell my colleagues from Right to Work states to keep their focus on policies within their own state and do what they think is best for them and we will do what we think is best for us, but we don’t need people coming from other states that aren’t as labor friendly as New York and telling us how to do our own business.” Zeldin also affirmed his opposition to anti-union proposals such as repealing Davis-Bacon, a major policy issue for the Building Trades.

Coming from a Republican this was big news.  Many in the labor community are very worried about what Trump and Congress will do in regards to anti-labor regulations at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the new Congress that has already introduced bills to repeal Davis Bacon.   Zeldin got elected with business support including the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, so his support for two major labor issues is paramount.  His announcement turned a kumbaya press conference into a very meaningful interaction for the Long Island labor community, and UCOMM Blog was happy to be there.  Nice work to all involved.

Brian Young contributed to this story.

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