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Swift Boat Veteran Takes on McCain's Senate Record

July 12, 2008

wasserIn 2004, Joliet, Ill., Local 176 member Jim Wasser, a U.S. Navy veteran who served with Sen. John Kerry in Vietnam, watched in horror as his service on a Swift Boat morphed into a term synonymous with campaign smear tactics.

Four years later, he’s taking on Sen. John McCain’s record as a long-serving member of the Senate to make the case to union members that he should not be elected our next president.

“Every vet respects John McCain’s war record,” Wasser says in a new ad launched July 10 by the AFL-CIO in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. “It’s his record in the Senate I have a problem with.”

Wasser, a journeyman wireman retiring this fall after 39 years as an active IBEW member, said thanks to the anti-labor policies of George W. Bush, “our kids are going to be the only generation never to do better than their parents.

“I can’t fathom why people are voting against their interests,” Wasser said. “Union men and women have to look at these issues. It’s basic economics: if you don’t have a job, you can’t buy a gun or support your family properly.”

Wasser ticked off a list of anti-union, anti-veteran votes by McCain: he voted against the right to organize under the Employee Free Choice Act, voted against an increase in health care benefits to veterans, voted against an extension of unemployment benefits and voted against the new GI Bill, which expands the educational benefit for veterans. McCain voted for NAFTA, even bemoaning recently the requirement that the motorcycles used by the U.S. Secret Service be made in the United States.  

He named as blessings his upbringing, his service in the Navy, and his membership in the IBEW. “Everything I have today I have because of three things: the values my parents taught me, my service during the Vietnam war and my affiliation with the IBEW.”
Wasser is part of the labor federation’s effort to reach the 2.1 military veterans who are union members. The Union Veterans Council, just launched by the AFL-CIO, seeks to bring to light the records of candidates on issues that affect former military personnel.

“Our nation’s veterans deserve much better than the failed Bush economy has given them,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “With the Union Veterans Council, veterans will be front and center in the effort to put our country back on track.”  


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