Thursday, April 3, 2008


Sen. John McCain is clearly not a fan of workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain for better wages and benefits. He has spoken out against unions and consistently voted against collective bargaining rights for workers. Union members know the right to bargain is essential to preserving good jobs with good wages and benefits.


McCain: Unions Have Played ‘Important Role’ But Have ‘Serious Excesses.’ When asked if unions are good for America, McCain responded, “I think the unions have played a very important role in the history of this country to improve the plight and conditions of laboring Americans. I think that like many other monopolies, in some cases they have then serious excesses.” [GOP Dearborn Debate, MSNBC, 10/9/07]

  • McCain: Teachers’ Unions Serve Unions’ Interest, NOT Children’s Interest. McCain has repeatedly attacked teachers’ unions. “It’s time to break the grip of the education monopoly that serves the union bosses at the expense of our children,” he said. [The New York Times, 2/11/00]

McCain Says Government Workers Are ‘Crippled’ by Union Contracts. In his speech to the Oklahoma State Legislature, McCain said, “We must streamline our workforce, demand high standards of behavior, promote excellence at every level based on merit and accountability, and not let good workers be crippled by the fine print of the latest union contract…. The civil service has strayed from its reformist roots and has mutated into a no-accountability zone, where employment is treated as an entitlement, good performance as an option, and accountability as someone else’s problem.” [Address to the Oklahoma State Legislature, 5/21/07]


McCain Voted Against the Employee Free Choice Act but For a National Right-to-Work for Less Law.

McCain voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field for workers trying to form unions. He voted for a National Right-to-Work for Less law that would attempt to eliminate unions altogether. [H.R. 800, Vote #227, 6/26/07; S. 1788 Vote #188, 7/10/96]

McCain Crossed a Writers Guild Picket Line to Appear on ‘The Tonight Show.’

McCain crossed the picket line of the Writers Guild of America to appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” [Think Progress, accessed 2/27/08]

McCain Voted to Allow Employers to Hire Permanent Replacements During a Strike. McCain voted against ending debate on a bill that would bar employers from hiring permanent replacements for striking workers. [S. 55,Vote #189, 7/13/94]

McCain Voted Against Collective Bargaining Rights for State and Local Police and Firefighters. [H.R. 3061, Vote #323, 11/6/01]

McCain Voted Against Collective Bargaining Rights for TSA Screeners. McCain voted against a measure to grant Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport screeners limited collective bargaining rights. The measure would not have allowed them to strike or negotiate for higher pay. [S. 4, Vote #64, 3/7/07]


Sen. John McCain has a record of failing to support policies that encourage good jobs with good wages and benefits. He voted to undermine our wages and cut our overtime eligibility and unemployment benefits and has not supported job-creating construction projects that stimulate our economy.



McCain Voted Against a Clean Minimum Wage Increase for Working Families.
McCain voted with the Republicans in 2007 to stall a clean minimum wage increase for working families— before bowing to public pressure and voting to pass the final bill that included tax breaks for businesses. He even voted to completely repeal the minimum wage laws in 45 states and allow the other five states to opt out of any future minimum wage increases above $5.15 an hour. [H.R. 2, Vote #23, 1/24/07; Vote #24, 1/24/07; Vote #25, 1/25/07; Vote #37, 1/31/07; Vote #39, 1/31/07; Vote #42, 1/31/07; S. 2766, Vote #179, 6/21/06; S. 256, Vote #26, 3/7/05]

McCain Called Connecting the Minimum Wage Debate to Senate Pay Raises ‘A Clever Ploy.’ When the Senate was debating a minimum wage increase in 2006 and the Senate’s many pay raises over the past decade were brought up, McCain called the comparison “a very clever ploy.” He defended his opposition to the minimum wage increase, saying he had foregone Senate pay raises, “…sometimes to the dismay of my family.” However, McCain’s 2005 personal financial disclosure reported that his family held assets worth between $27 million and $42 million, which generated income between $1.8 million and $4.6 million. Clearly his situation is not comparable to that of working families making the minimum wage. [ABC News, 7/2/06; McCain 2005 Personal Financial Disclosure Statement]

But McCain Supported Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest Americans. McCain voted for a budget reconciliation bill in 2005 that included a $60 billion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, with more than three quarters of the benefits going to families with $100,000 or more in annual income. [S. 2020, Vote #26, 11/18/05]


McCain Opposed Applying Davis-Bacon to Federal Disaster Areas. McCain supported an amendment to prohibit application of Davis-Bacon requirements for fair wages in declared federal disaster areas. It would have undercut the wages of people working in the harshest conditions. [S. 1650, Vote #320, 10/7/99]

McCain Voted Against ‘Sense of the Senate’ Support for Davis-Bacon. McCain voted to table a “sense of the Senate” measure saying the Davis-Bacon Act, which protects workers’ paychecks on public construction projects, should not be repealed. [S Amdt. 4031, Vote #134, 5/22/96]

McCain Has Repeatedly Supported Exceptions to Prevailing Wage Rules. McCain voted against tabling a proposal to require Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements for contractors on federal drinking water projects. He voted to waive the requirements for workers at Davis-Bacon federal construction projects. McCain voted against tabling a proposal to allow building contractors to pay workers less than the Davis-Bacon Act’s prevailing wage rules. [S. 2019, Vote #118, 5/18/94; H.R. 5132, Vote #105, 5/21/92; H.R. 2916, Vote #181, 9/19/89]

McCain Voted to Create an Underclass of Laborers Not Subject to Prevailing Wage Laws. McCain voted to allow the Bush administration to create a new class of workers called “helpers,” who would have no formal training and would not fall under Davis- Bacon wage protection requirements. [H.R. 2518, Vote #289, 9/28/93]


McCain Voted Against Protections for Workers’ Overtime Rights. McCain voted against protecting workers’ overtime pay from Bush administration rules that threaten the overtime rights of 6 million workers. [S. 1637, Vote #79, 5/4/04]


McCain Opposed Worker Safety and Ergonomic Standards. McCain voted to block the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from issuing, implementing or enforcing standards to protect workers from ergonomic injuries. [H.R. 4577, Vote #143, 6/22/00]

McCain Voted to Gut the Family and Medical Leave Act. In 1993, before finally voting for the Family and Medical Leave Act, McCain voted to jeopardize leave for millions of workers by gutting the bill. He voted to suspend the act unless the federal government either certified that compliance would not increase costs for business or provided financial assistance to businesses to cover any costs associated with implementing the law. [S. Amdt. 16, S. 5, Vote #7, 2/4/93; H.R. 1, Vote #11, 2/4/93]


McCain Would Take Money from Programs Designed to Retrain Workers. McCain said he would reallocate money spent on existing retraining programs to help pay for an unworkable wage insurance proposal. [Detroit Free Press, 12/20/07]

McCain Voted Against a Pilot Program to Provide Low-Interest Loans to Workers in Job Training or Assistance Programs. In 2002, McCain voted to kill an amendment requiring the Labor Department to establish a pilot program providing low-interest loans to workers in job training or job assistance programs to enable workers to continue making their mortgage payments. [H.R. 3009, Vote #119, 5/21/02,]

McCain Opposed Extending Federal Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Jobless Workers. McCain voted against extending the expiring Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for another six months, with an additional 13 weeks of benefits for workers who exhaust their federal benefits while looking for a new job. The amendment also called for unemployment benefits for low-wage workers and workers seeking part-time employment. At the time the program was due to expire, more than 1 million long-term jobless workers were nearing the end of their state benefits. [S. 1054, Vote #152, 5/15/03]


McCain Voted Against 2004 and 2005 Highway Bills. McCain voted against the 2004 $318 billion highway and transportation bill that would create about 5 million jobs over six years in new highway and transit construction projects, although Bush said he would only approve up to $256 billion in funding. The legislation contained Davis–Bacon prevailing wage protections. McCain also voted in 2005 against a six-year, $286 billion reauthorization of the federal highway and transit construction program. The infrastructure modernization bill would create 1 million family-supporting jobs, protected by Davis-Bacon prevailing wage standards. [S. 1072, Vote #14, 2/12/04; H.R. 3, Vote #220, 7/29/05]

McCain Opposed $1.6 Billion in School Construction Funding. McCain voted against an amendment that authorized $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2002 to help states and local school districts repair their most dilapidated public school buildings. [S. 1, Vote #108, 5/16/01]

McCain Sought to Eliminate $12.6 Million in Construction Funding. McCain tried to eliminate $12.6 million in construction funding for a research center proposed at Iowa State University. [Des Moines Register, 12/12/99]


Sen. John McCain has a long history of supporting the kind of trade deals that have devastated our economy and sent our jobs overseas. He continues to proclaim his support for new trade agreements despite evidence of how harmful agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA have been. He supported allowing China to enter the WTO despite its horrible worker safety and product safety record, exposing our children to toxic toys and our families to contaminated food. McCain has added insult to injury by voting against measures intended to help stem the fl ow of jobs lost due to these agreements.


McCain: America Suffers from Protectionist Policies.
After telling Michiganders their manufacturing jobs are not coming back, McCain said, ““When you study history, every time we’ve adopted protectionism, we’ve paid a very heavy price.” [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 1/26/08]

  • McCain Does NOT Support Tariff Protection Barriers. “Asked whether McCain supports the strategic dialogue with the Chinese the Bush administration has pursued or a stronger approach including potential penalties, Holtz-Eakin said, “The senator believes tariff protection barriers have never worked.”” [Women’s Wear Daily, 10/10/07]

McCain Voted for the Most Devastating Trade Agreement in Our History, NAFTA.McCain voted for NAFTA in 1993 and has been a steadfast supporter for the trade agreement ever since. [H.R. 3450, Vote #395, 11/20/93]

  • McCain in Iowa: “I know NAFTA was a good idea.” McCain said to the Des Moines Register leading up to the Iowa caucuses: “I know NAFTA was a good idea. It has created millions of jobs and it has helped the economies of all three of these nations. All you have to do is go to Detroit and see the trucks lined up every day or go to our southern border. There have been winners and losers. And that’s the problem. But free trade is something that I think is vital to America.” Des Moines Register and interview, November 2007]

  • NAFTA Resulted in a Loss of More Than a Million Jobs. From 1993 through 2004, the United States lost 1,015,290 jobs due to NAFTA. [Robert E. Scott and David Ratner, “NAFTA’s Cautionary Tale—Recent history suggests CAFTA could lead to further U.S. job displacement,” Economic Policy Institute, 7/20/05]

McCain Voted for Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). McCain voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA cuts tariff s among the United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. But the agreement, modeled after NAFTA, does not contain adequate environmental protections or enforceable protections for such core workers’ rights as the freedom to form unions. At the same time, its excessive protections for multinational corporations will undermine the ability of governments to protect public health, strong communities and the environment. [S. 1307, Vote #170, 6/30/05]

  • And Wants to Continue to Expand CAFTA. “We need to build on the passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement by expanding U.S. trade with the region,” McCain said in June [2007] to the Florida Association of Broadcasters. “Let’s start by ratifying the trade agreements with Panama,Peru and Colombia that are already completed, and pushing forward the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Too many Democrats have embraced economic isolationism, paying off special interests by opposing trade agreements with our democratic neighbors. They could not be more wrong. My administration would reduce barriers to trade and press for renewed Trade Promotion Authority.” [McCain’s address on Latin America to the Florida Association of Broadcasters published 6/20/07]

McCain Has Voted for Every Other Bad Trade Agreement That Has Come Up.

McCain votes in support of any and all trade agreements regardless of their negative impacts on U.S. workers. He voted for trade agreements with Oman, Singapore, Chile and Morocco, among others, as well as for Fast Track bills to make it easier for the president to enact trade agreements without strong worker protections. [S. 33569, Vote #190, 6/29/06; H.R. 2739, Vote #318, 7/31/03; H.R. 2738, Vote #319, 7/31/03; H.R. 434, Vote #353, 11/3/99; H.R. 3009, Vote #115, 5/16/02, Vote #117, 5/21/02, Vote #207, 8/1/02; S. 1269, Vote #292, 11/4/97]

  • McCain in 1999: “I Would Negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with Almost Any Country.” “If I were president, I would negotiate a free trade agreement with almost any country willing to negotiate fairly with us.” [Speech to the National Press Club, 5/20/99]


  • McCain Supported Normalizing Trade Relations with China. He voted for normalizing trade relations with China, allowing China to enter the World Trade Organization despite an ongoing history of human rights and workers’ rights violations. [H.R. 4444, Vote #251, 9/19/00]
  • 101,480 Chinese Died in Work Accidents Last Year. In 2007, 101,480 Chinese died in accidents. In the world’s deadliest coal mines, 3,786 miners were killed—a figure believed by experts to understate casualties as mine owners and officials hide accidents to avoid costly investigations and penalties. [Associated Press, 1/22/08]
  • Grocery Chain Stops Carrying Chinese Foods After Regulators Warn of Contamination. “Trader Joe’s grocery stores are dropping foods from China to satisfy customers concerned about the quality of that country’s products after last year’s spate of problems.…Federal regulators last year warned about contaminated Chinese pet-food ingredients, fish containing antibiotics not allowed in human food, and toothpaste laced with a chemical used in antifreeze.” [USA Today, 2/11/08]
  • Every State Has Suffered Job Loss Since China Entered the WTO. Since China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, every state and the District of Columbia have suffered China-related job displacement totaling 1.8 million lost jobs. [“Costly Trade with China,” Economy Policy Institute, 10/9/07]
  • Three-Quarters of Displaced Jobs Were in Manufacturing. Nearly three-quarters of displaced jobs resulting from Chinese trade deficits were in manufacturing industries. [“Costly Trade with China,” Economy Policy Institute, 10/9/07]

McCain Said the United States Should NOT Focus on China Currency Devaluation in Isolation. McCain’s top economic policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said McCain believes the United States cannot “focus on the currency issue in isolation” in its relationship with China. He reiterated McCain’s intentions to “pursue additional trade agreements that open markets, and he would make sure in the process that the trade agreements would have the enforcement mechanisms needed to make sure trade is conducted on a fair market basis.” [Women’s Wear Daily, 10/10/07]

  • Rising Chinese Trade Deficits Resulted in 2.1 Million Displaced Jobs. “Th e rise in the U.S. trade deficit with China between 1997 and 2006 has displaced production that could have supported 2,166,000…between 1997 and 2001, trade deficits displaced an average of 101,000 jobs per year…since China entered the WTO in 2001, job loss has increased to an average of 353,000 per year. U.S. jobs.” [“Costly Trade with China,” Economy Policy Institute, 10/9/07]


McCain Supported President Bush’s Outsourcing Efforts. McCain voted to allow overseas outsourcing of government contracts after President Bush’s economic advisers released a report saying America should outsource its jobs. [S.1637, Vote #32, 3/4/04]

McCain Voted Against Limiting Tax Breaks to Companies That Re-Import Foreign Manufactured Goods. He voted against a bill to tax multinational companies on income from foreign factories when goods are shipped back to the United States and to require companies to notify employees and give a reason before they move their jobs overseas. [S.1637, Vote #83, 5/5/04]

McCain Supported Waiving and Weakening Buy American Laws. McCain voted to allow the Secretary of Defense to waive Buy American laws for defense systems and place our defense manufacturing industry in jeopardy. He also voted to exempt defense goods from six European countries from Buy American requirements that traditionally have required most military equipment and defense systems to be manufactured in the United States. [S. 2400, Vote #135, 6/22/04; S. 1050, Vote #191, 5/21/03]

McCain Voted to Allow Unsafe Foreign Trucks on U.S. Roads. McCain voted against an amendment to prohibit Mexican trucks from operating beyond a limited border zone because they are not held to the same safety standards as U.S. trucks. [H.R. 2299, Vote #252, 7/26/01]

McCain Abstained from Voting to Protect Steel Jobs. McCain abstained from a vote to filibuster a bill to protect steelworker jobs from illegal dumping after 10,000 steelworkers lost their jobs. [H.R. 975, Vote #178, 6/22/99]

McCain Voted Against Providing Health Insurance for Employees and Retirees of Bankrupt Steel Companies. McCain voted against a measure that provided temporary health insurance assistance to retirees of bankrupt steel companies. [S.Amdt. 3433, Vote #117, 5/21/02]

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