Wednesday, October 31

Edwards Speaks On Behalf of Laid Off Maytag Workers

From the LA Times

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards criticized executive pay and declining worker benefits Friday in an economic-policy speech timed to the closing of an iconic Iowa manufacturer.

The former North Carolina senator called for universal retirement savings accounts that would follow workers from job to job, universal healthcare, and stronger corporate-responsibility laws and consumer protections. Edwards also pledged to create new credits where savings of up to $500 a year would be matched by the government, something he would pay for by raising capital gains taxes for high-income households.

But it was his introduction by a former assembly line worker that helped stir the crowd. Doug Bishop, a burly former Maytag Corp. worker, does not look like the type to fight tears in front of a room full of people.

For many in Iowa, this was an emotional week, as Maytag closed its last production line Thursday in Newton, sending home 550 workers for the last time. For the first time in 114 years, Maytag products will no longer be produced in the company's longtime home. Whirlpool Corp., which bought Maytag last year, closed the plant.

Bishop said he would never forget what Edwards told his son when he met him in 2004 as Sen. John Kerry's running mate: " 'I'm going to keep fighting for your daddy's job.' "

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