June 24, 2004

Federal Workers' Union Endorses Kerry



The nation's largest federal workers' union, battling the Bush administration on government outsourcing and other issues, is endorsing Democrat John Kerry for president.

The announcement by the American Federation of Government Employees is set for Friday at the union's convention in Pittsburgh. Kerry taped a speech that will be played at the meeting.

The endorsement isn't a surprise. The union is fighting the Bush administration on an overhaul of the civil service system, collective bargaining rights being stripped for workers in some agencies and annual pay raises.

"This president came right out of the box and punched us right in the mouth," said union President John Gage.

Unlike many other unions, AFGE isn't solidly Democratic. About 18 percent of its members are Republicans and 35 percent describe themselves as independent. The union endorsed Richard Nixon in 1972 and snubbed Jimmy Carter in 1980 by withholding its endorsement.

"It's time to remember a basic truth. A stronger America begins right here at home," Kerry said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday that were provided by the union. "A stronger America means working with you, not against you."