Steelworkers Lambast Ron Johnson's Candidacy for U.S. Senate

Jul 28, 2010, 10:49 ET from United Steelworkers (USW)

MENASHA, Wis., July 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) union today cautioned working families to beware of the candidacy of Ron Johnson for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Russ Feingold.

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"We've been monitoring this election closely because thousands of Wisconsin jobs may be in jeopardy from unfair trade legislation pending in Congress," said USW District 2 Director Mike Bolton.  

"From what we've heard from Mr. Johnson, if elected, he'd continue supporting the job-destroying trade deals that have already cost Wisconsin tens of thousands of good paying family-supporting jobs.

"Johnson calls NAFTA a success and glibly refers to the horrendous job losses it caused as 'creative destruction.'  He must not ever be considered a viable candidate to serve the people of Wisconsin," Bolton said.

For more than a decade, the USW has repeatedly expressed its outrage over the enormous size of the U.S. trade deficits.  Economists have warned that it raises the possibility of a severe international economic crisis should foreigners begin to dump the dollars they hold in world currency markets.

Russ Feingold's record speaks for itself.  He voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, Fast Track, and Most Favored Nation status for China, because he believed they would cause Wisconsin to lose manufacturing jobs and family farms.

"He was right." Bolton said.  "Global corporations made billions while American workers got screwed.  If somehow, Johnson gets into the Senate and the Republicans take over, we'll see job hemorrhaging like never before."

USW Vice President Jon Geenen is a Wisconsin native and a strong supporter of Russ Feingold.  

"When I look at politics and study the candidates, I try to understand their character," Geenen said.  "Johnson is new on the scene and hopes to capitalize on being an outsider.

"It's clear to most everyone that he represents big business," he said.  "His solution to health care puts business interests ahead of the rights of patients; he wants private accounts for Social Security; he described President Obama's dealing with BP as strong arm tactics; and he would have been a reliable 'NO' vote for the Republicans, even on the extension of unemployment benefits.

"But the thing that stands out on Johnson's character issue is how he has taken a vote on an energy Bill that Feingold has voted against and tries to make voters believe that Feingold was against protecting the Great Lakes from oil drilling," Geenen said. "The truth is that Feingold voted against the Bill because he did not believe it was strong enough.

"That's more than misleading, it's a clear distortion of the facts," he said. "Johnson's campaign is using malicious distortions that must be called what they are – they are lies – in a vicious attempt to distort Feingold's record.

"We intend to tell Wisconsin's voters what they are getting in Ron Johnson, that is, a radical, right-wing conservative that is so far out of the mainstream and unsuitable to serve in any public office," Geenen said.

Feingold is widely respected for forming his own opinions and has often taken positions in opposition of his party leadership, which shows independence and his commitment to the people of Wisconsin.

USW International President Leo W. Gerard gives Feingold credit for upholding the values that Wisconsin citizens hold by their tradition of electing progressives to serve in Congress.

"One of the things I've always admired is his commitment to campaign finance reform," Gerard said.  "He was successful in working across the aisle, in what became known as the McCain-Feingold Amendment, which was passed as an effort to control the millions of unregulated dollars that were used to buy political office.

"The big bucks still found their way into the elective process and now the conservative-activist Supreme Court has even gone further in allowing unlimited corporate cash into the system," he said.  "This race is just a sample of what we expect to come.  Johnson can not only use his millions to finance his campaign, corporate donors can now legally pour as much money into his campaign as well.

"The good citizens of Wisconsin have a clear choice to make," Gerard said.  "They can keep Russ Feingold in the Senate, knowing he will continue his independent ways while standing up for working families.  Johnson, on the other hand, will support more trade deals that cost us jobs; support changes that threaten our retirement security and give big business a free hand to wield its power and influence, no matter what cost to our citizens."


Michael Bolton (920) 722-7630

Gerald Dickey (412) 562-2281

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)