From NY Times
PITTSBURGH – In a city that still maintains strong ties to the steel and mining industries, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards received the endorsement of two powerful unions that represent their workers.
Today the United Steelworkers and United Mine Workers of America, which have a combined 1.8 million members, threw their support behind Mr. Edwards. His campaign said the endorsements gave him “the largest bloc of union support” of any of the presidential candidates so far.
In a statement announcing the Labor Day endorsement, the steel union cited Mr. Edwards’s electability in the general election — a theme his campaign has been pushing as a way to set him apart from top rivals Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
“The union movement is not just important for the past, it is crucial to strengthening and growing the middle class in America, crucial to lifting millions of Americans out of poverty,” Mr. Edwards said while visiting a region of the country where the steel and manufacturing businesses have declined.
Wearing blue jeans and a windbreaker displaying the U.S.W. and U.M.W.A. logos, Mr. Edwards spoke for about ten minutes to union members and supporters who gathered outside the Mellon sports arena here. He used the opportunity to highlight his health care plan, trade policies and the issue of safety for mine workers in the wake of the Utah mine disaster.
“I promise you that when I am president of the United States we will not have a mine company executive who is responsible for the safety of mine workers,” he said. “We will have somebody who actually understands what needs to be done to keep workers safe who are toiling in the mines every single day.”
As president, Mr. Edwards also pledged to help strengthen the union movement in America by making the case to Congress and the public for labor law reform that would ensure the right to organize and collectively bargain.The former North Carolina senator has been campaigning hard for the organized labor vote, and last week he also won the backing of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, which has about half a million members.