by Mike Hall
More than 3,000 union members and leaders this morning will kick off the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department’s (BCTD’s) annual National Legislative Conference that also marks the BCTD’s 100th anniversary.
Both Democratic presidential candidates are set to appear, with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) taking the podium tomorrow and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) addressing the conference Wednesday. The department has not made an endorsement in the presidential race.
Says BCTD President Mark Ayers:
We are excited at having this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate this centennial event, and to reflect upon the achievements of the union construction industry, as well as the lessons we have learned, which will serve us well as we continue our resurgence as the most dominant entity in the North American construction market. We are thoroughly excited at the prospect of having Sens. Clinton and Obama address our assembly, while offering our delegates a chance to embrace and thank two of the closest allies and friends that we have.
Along with the two presidential hopefuls, several other prominent lawmakers and political experts are on the agenda, including Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee; Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) (via video), for whom BCTD and other union members played a key role in his 2007 victory; and political analyst James Carville. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney will speak to the conference delegates tomorrow.
Union leaders and members will visit their representatives and senators on Capitol Hill to press for key working family issues, including extended unemployment benefits,prevailing wage standards, an end to abuse by employers classifying workers as so-called independent contractors, affordable quality health care and more.
Also, participants will attend several workshops on legislative issues and political action, with Labor 2008 mobilization for the November election topping the agenda.
BCTD’s 100th anniversary meeting also will include plenty of celebrations. Click here for a photographic look at a century of the workers and the work of the BCTD. The BCTD is made up of 13 construction and trades unions that work together on legislative, safety, training and other issues.