Vice President Al Gore is still trying to win the endorsement of the Teamsters union in his bid for president. The Teamsters refused to endorse him last month, even as the AFL-CIO did so.
Gore last week addressed the quarterly board meeting of the Teamsters' General Executive Board at the Teamsters' Washington, DC, headquarters, at the invitation of Teamsters President James P. Hoffa.
One of the key issues discussed was Mexican trucking and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Gore reportedly tried to ease the union's concerns that unsafe Mexican trucks will come streaming across the border if it is ever opened as NAFTA calls for.
When asked what he would do differently from the Clinton administration, Gore acknowledged that labor concerns have not been a high enough priority during international trade negotiations. "I believe in free trade -- but it has to be fair trade," Gore said.
The union's leaders have also met with the other Democratic presidential hopeful, Bill Bradley, and say they hope to meet with Republican front-runner George W. Bush. All three candidates support free trade, which puts them at odds with organized labor.
The Hoffa administration maintains that it is too early to endorse a candidate for the presidential election.
According to the Teamsters, Gore made several comments in support of the Teamsters' organization efforts at Overnite Transportation during the AFL-CIO convention. The Teamsters have been picketing a disputed number of Overnite terminals since Oct. 24.
"This is the largest private sector organizing effort of any U.S. union in the last quarter century," said Gore, according to a Teamsters press release. "You have been met with the most wide-ranging and relentless anti-union campaigns in history. ... We want to shine a spotlight on the unfairness of employers like Overnite."