AFL-CIO [Prepared Remarks]

Remarks by John Sweeney
AFL-CIO President
Post-election Press Conference
November 3, 2004

The story of this election is still being written.  But one thing is clear: America's union members came out in huge numbers and voted overwhelmingly for the candidate who had their issues at heart.

And let me also say --- and strongly --- we must count every vote cast in this election.  There can be no rush to judgment.  That is the message we took away from the nightmare of 2000.  Record numbers of voters stood in long, long lines yesterday to make their voices heard.  They were proud to do so and they showed fiath in our democracy despite a lot of reasons not to.  We must count their votes.

We told you we would tell you exactly how union members voted regardless of what else hangs in the balance and this morning we want to do that.  Union households accounted for 1 out of 4 voters -- 27 million voters.  In 2004 as in 2000, union households provided a 5.8 million vote advantage for the Democratic candidate for President. 

As you will see from the independent research conducted by Hart Research, union members voted two to one for John Kerry nationwide - and the margin was a little bigger in battleground states.

Our program was the biggest ever.  I traveled to nearly every swing state over the past three months, and I've never seen our members so energized.

No matter who is in the White House on January 21st, we're going to take that energy, that momentum, that technology, that field operation and start right now building a movement that will keep turning this country around.

Yesterday's election was breathtakingly close.  There is clearly no conservative mandate for our nation.  People want government action to keep good jobs here instead of policies to ship them away.  They want to strengthen retirement security instead of privatizing Social Security.  They want to work with employers and states to bring down health costs and expand health coverage.

There were a lot of cross-pressures in this election, but on the basic economic decisions there was no question.  We can't let the policies of the last four years stand, and we won't.

Union members put their hearts into this election.  Construction workers phone banked next to steelworkers and government workers.  Teachers walked their neighborhoods side-by-side with nurses and janitors -- union members knocked on more than six million doors this year!  Workers passed out over 32 million leaflets on the job and in their neighborhoods.

They are members like Ralph Myers, Maria Montenegro, Daniel Meeham, and Lori Chlopecki who we are so pleased to have with us here today.

Every single union committed more staff, mobilized more volunteers, and reached further out through their local unions and worksites than ever before.

We were very concerned about voting rights in this election, and our "My Vote, My Right" program placed voting rights coordinators in 12 battleground states.  Together with allies, we met with local elections officials, educated voters and recruited and trained thousands of poll monitors for over 850 high-risk polling places --- and I think our work and the work of others was important in putting officials on notice.

Now we have the issue of provisional ballots in Ohio.  We have attorneys and other assistance available in Ohio to assure that every vote will be counted.

Now I'd like to ask Geoff Garin of Peter Hart Research to tell us more about what they found in surveying union members yesterday.