Bradley Wants More Picketing Rights
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Presidential hopeful Bill Bradley endorsed stronger picketing rights for construction unions and other labor-friendly proposals Wednesday in an attempt to siphon blocs of Democrats from Vice President Al Gore.
The former New Jersey senator earned several standing ovations from a crowd of 900 and chants of ``Brad-lee″ as he left the convention of the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades.
The painters union planned a straw poll on presidential candidates and several members predicted Bradley will top Gore, who is on vacation and declined an invitation to speak at the convention. But Bradley still has much work ahead of him in chipping away at Gore’s labor support for the Democratic nomination.
The results of the straw poll will be forwarded to the AFL-CIO, which will weigh an endorsement in October and is widely expected to back Gore. Bradley spokesman Eric Hauser said Bradley won a small victory in beating back plans for an early AFL-CIO endorsement of Gore.
Gore’s campaign released a list of 19 unions and union locals that have endorsed the vice president. The painters union, with 130,000 members, is one of 72 unions within the 13-million-member AFL-CIO.
Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, told reporters that Gore has done ``a tremendous job on worker issues.″ But he said Bradley’s was one of the best speeches he has heard, and that Gore made a mistake by not showing up.
Bradley pleased the crowd by agreeing restrictions should be loosened on picketing at multiple-employer construction job sites.
Under rules established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1951, union members picketing a construction site can assemble only at a designated entrance for their members, leaving a ``neutral″ entrance for use by members of other unions.
Building trades unions have long sought to change the law, which restricts their ability to act against a specific employer at a job site, said Fred Kotler, associate director of the construction industry program at Cornell University.
Congress revisited the issue in the 1970s, but the rules were left unchanged.
Bradley also endorsed withholding government contracts from companies that violate labor laws and increasing damages against companies that fire an employee illegally for organizing a union. He also backed a higher minimum wage without being specific.
When he was asked whether, as president, he would seek legislation loosening the picketing rules, he was ready with a one-word response.
``Yes,″ he said, and the members rose to give him an ovation.