The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 16, 2008

McCain's voting record shows worker issues not his priority

By The Building Tradesman

Republican presidential nominee John McCain has been a U.S. senator from Arizona since 1987, after serving as a U.S. House member for four years. His 25 years of service as a lawmaker in the federal government has created an extensive paper trail in Congress that helps voters see where he stands.

Following is a record of votes and quotes by McCain as they pertain to union members and other working Americans, provided by the AFL-CIO.

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 also 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]

Minimum wage II. 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. [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 tried to limit the nation's prevailing wage law. McCain supported an amendment to prohibit application of Davis-Bacon (prevailing wage) requirements for fair wages in declared federal disaster areas. It would have undercut the wages of people working in the harshest conditions. Prevailing wage laws are the single most important factor in upholding construction worker wages, both union and nonunion. [S. 1650, Vote #320, 10/7/99]

Then he did it again. McCain voted to table - but not approve - 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]

…And again. McCain voted to waive Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements for contractors on federal drinking water projects. [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 construction workers not subject to prevailing wage laws. He 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 would remove 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 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]