June 2003


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Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 7 Jun 2003 11:57:59 -0700
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New York Times
June 6, 2003

Unions Back Research Plan for Energy

by Steven Greenhouse

Ten labor unions, including the steelworkers and auto workers, urged
presidential candidates yesterday to back a 10-year, $300 billion
research plan that would promote energy efficiency, reduce dependence
on foreign oil and preserve manufacturing jobs.

Labor leaders said the plan, called the Apollo Project, would foster
energy independence by promoting hybrid and hydrogen cars and
energy-efficient factories and appliances. Supporters said the
project would help make the United States the leader in these areas
and would help preserve factory jobs after the nation had lost more
than two million manufacturing jobs in the past two years.

The plan's backers said they hoped it would improve ties between
labor and the environmental movement, groups that have clashed in
recent years on issues like emissions standards and energy

"We believe this plan can create good manufacturing jobs, good
construction jobs, can improve the public infrastructure, can be good
for the environment and can reduce our dependence on foreign energy,"
Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers of America, said at
a news conference.

The plan is also backed by the United Mine Workers, the Service
Employees International Union, the International Association of
Machinists and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Several supporters said that labor leaders had planned to send a
letter yesterday to Democratic presidential candidates and President
Bush. But they said the union leaders decided to delay sending the
letter because they were waiting for several of the nation's largest
environmental groups to sign on.

"We are very, very excited," said Carl Pope, executive director of
the Sierra Club, which is considering whether to support the plan.
"It is not that any of these ideas are radically new. What is
radically different is the commitment on the part of a huge segment
of American organized labor to organize the rebuilding of blue-collar
America around modern environmentalism and sound energy technology."

The plan calls for more financing for high-speed rail and fuel-cell
technology, for building pipelines and storage facilities to support
hydrogen-powered cars and for expanding the use of solar and wind

The steelworkers union and the Institute for America's Future, a new
liberal research center, which helped develop the plan, distributed
polling data showing that the plan had wide support in Pennsylvania
and several Midwestern swing states that have lost hundreds of
thousands of manufacturing jobs. Supporters said they hoped the poll
numbers would persuade presidential candidates to embrace the plan,
although privately some acknowledged that candidates might balk at
its $300 billion price tag.

A poll commissioned by the steelworkers union found that in
Pennsylvania 73 percent of respondents backed the plan, including
more than 80 percent of Democratic men without college educations, an
important group of swing voters. This group favors re-electing
President Bush by 44 percent to 41 percent, the poll found. The
survey of 400 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus
five percentage points.