The Teamsters is the last major labor union to not endorse a presidential candidate, now that the United Auto Workers has endorsed Al Gore.
Gore traveled to Detroit Friday to accept the long-awaited endorsement, which has been difficult to get because of the vice president's position in favor of free trade. That's the same reason the Teamsters have not endorsed Gore, and indeed may endorse no one.
Union President Stephen Yokich has criticized Gore for supporting permanent normal trade relations with China and for backing the North American Free Trade Agreement. The UAW thought about considering Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, but Yokich said Gore was the only candidate who offered a platform the UAW could support and had a real chance of winning the race.
The UAW pointed to Gore's stand on issues such as the economy, workers rights, education, Social Security and Medicare.
"Unlike George W. Bush, Al Gore understands that our economy works best when working men and women have a real say in the workplace," Yokich said in a statement.
"That's not to say that we agree with Al Gore on every issue; obviously we don't," Yokich said. "It's no secret that we disagree--and disagree sharply--on NAFTA and on granting China permanent normal trade relations. Yet even on trade where we don't see eye to eye, Al Gore is better -- much better -- than George W. Bush.
"As president, Al Gore will insist that human rights, workers' rights, and environmental protections are included in core trade agreements. He is committed to vigorously use existing trade laws to protect American workers and industries against dumping and other unfair trade practices…. In contrast, George W. Bush believes that human rights, workers' rights and environmental standards have no place in trade agreements; on this issue, as on so many others, Bush has turned his back on working Americans."
The Teamsters union, which has met with all major candidates, including Nader and the Reform Party's Pat Buchanan, is polling its members and will announce its endorsement -- or its decision to stay neutral -- around Labor Day.