Tuesday, September 28, 2004

 

That's my boy

John Edwards refused to cross a picket line, showing his support for a firefighters' union:

http://news.bostonherald.com/election2004/view.bg?articleid=46348

John Edwards refuses to cross picket line
By Associated PressTuesday, September 28, 2004

Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards [related, bio] canceled his appearance at a Providence campaign fund-raiser yesterday, refusing to cross a firefighters' picket line staged because of the union's ongoing dispute with this city's Democratic mayor.

The North Carolina senator had been scheduled to attend a reception at the downtown Biltmore Hotel, which an organizer said brought in nearly $500,000 for the presidential ticket of Sen. John Kerry [related, bio] and Edwards.

The firefighters' union said it has gone four years without a contract, and accuses Mayor David Cicilline of failing to negotiate directly with it. Cicilline, a Kerry-Edwards supporter, said the firefighters' demands are unaffordable, and faulted the union for disrupting the fund-raiser.
On the Biltmore's 17th floor, Democratic party supporters were sipping drinks and eating hors d'oeuvres when event organizers announced Edwards would not attend.

``Once the campaign learned there would be a picket line at the event due to a contract dispute with the city, we canceled this trip,'' said Kim Rubey, a spokeswoman for Edwards. ``John Edwards does not cross picket lines.''

She said Edwards learned of the picket line while at a Manchester, N.H., event, and went directly from there to a planned New York stop. Rubey was unsure if Edwards planned another visit to the Ocean State.

``We're all disappointed today. We're not going to be disappointed on November 2,'' said former lieutenant governor Richard Licht, who is working on the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Rhode Island and attended the event.

Joseph Paolino, Jr., one of the event's main organizers, said he was sorry Edwards didn't attend. ``But you can't do anything about it,'' he added.

David Peters, president of Local 799 of the International Association of Firefighters, said the protest was directed at the mayor, not the Democrats.

``We support the Democratic party right through,'' he said.

Peters said the union would have called off the protest if the mayor had stayed away from the event. Cicilline said Friday he had no intention of skipping the fund-raiser to appease the union.

``I am a huge Kerry-Edwards supporter. I'm the mayor of this city. I of course was going to be at the event,'' Cicilline said. He said the union was using ``intimidation tactics'' in an effort to gain ground in the contract dispute.

The firefighters and the mayor are at odds over health care, pensions and salary, according to the union. Cicilline said arbitrators will resolve the situation, while union officials said the mayor should settle the issues.

``We're asking him to sit down and negotiate fairly with us,'' Peters said.

The protest included some 75 firefighters, who held signs that read ``Negotiate'' and ``Cicilline Democrat?''

Edwards made appearances Friday in Manchester, N.H., and New York. In Manchester, he accused President Bush's re-election campaign of lying in television ads about Kerry's Vietnam War service and his plan to reform health care.

Tracy Young, a Providence resident who attended the Biltmore fund-raiser, said she was disappointed Edwards chose not to attend.

``I personally don't think it was the right decision, because people paid to be here, they paid to see him,'' she said. Young added Edwards' staff could have allayed the firefighters' concerns by speaking with them, and then attending the reception.

Former attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse, also at the fund-raiser, said he was not bothered by Edwards' decision to skip the event.

``From my point of view, I don't really want him here ... I want him in the so-called battleground states,'' Whitehouse said. He said the fund-raiser accomplished what it set out to do, which was to raise money for the party.

Analysts predict Rhode Island is solidly in the Kerry-Edwards camp. The state has four electoral votes.

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