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NYTimes.com Article: Unions Back Research Plan for Energy

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      Unions Back Research Plan for Energy

      June 6, 2003

      Ten labor unions, including the steelworkers and auto
      workers, urged presidential candidates yesterday to back a
      10-year, $300 billion research plan that would promote
      energy efficiency, reduce dependence on foreign oil and
      preserve manufacturing jobs.

      Labor leaders said the plan, called the Apollo Project,
      would foster energy independence by promoting hybrid and
      hydrogen cars and energy-efficient factories and
      appliances. Supporters said the project would help make the
      United States the leader in these areas and would help
      preserve factory jobs after the nation had lost more than
      two million manufacturing jobs in the past two years.

      The plan's backers said they hoped it would improve ties
      between labor and the environmental movement, groups that
      have clashed in recent years on issues like emissions
      standards and energy exploration.

      "We believe this plan can create good manufacturing jobs,
      good construction jobs, can improve the public
      infrastructure, can be good for the environment and can
      reduce our dependence on foreign energy," Leo Gerard,
      president of the United Steelworkers of America, said at a
      news conference.

      The plan is also backed by the United Mine Workers, the
      Service Employees International Union, the International
      Association of Machinists and the International Brotherhood
      of Electrical Workers.

      Several supporters said that labor leaders had planned to
      send a letter yesterday to Democratic presidential
      candidates and President Bush. But they said the union
      leaders decided to delay sending the letter because they
      were waiting for several of the nation's largest
      environmental groups to sign on.

      "We are very, very excited," said Carl Pope, executive
      director of the Sierra Club, which is considering whether
      to support the plan. "It is not that any of these ideas are
      radically new. What is radically different is the
      commitment on the part of a huge segment of American
      organized labor to organize the rebuilding of blue-collar
      America around modern environmentalism and sound energy

      The plan calls for more financing for high-speed rail and
      fuel-cell technology, for building pipelines and storage
      facilities to support hydrogen-powered cars and for
      expanding the use of solar and wind power.

      The steelworkers union and the Institute for America's
      Future, a new liberal research center, which helped develop
      the plan, distributed polling data showing that the plan
      had wide support in Pennsylvania and several Midwestern
      swing states that have lost hundreds of thousands of
      manufacturing jobs. Supporters said they hoped the poll
      numbers would persuade presidential candidates to embrace
      the plan, although privately some acknowledged that
      candidates might balk at its $300 billion price tag.

      A poll commissioned by the steelworkers union found that in
      Pennsylvania 73 percent of respondents backed the plan,
      including more than 80 percent of Democratic men without
      college educations, an important group of swing voters.
      This group favors re-electing President Bush by 44 percent
      to 41 percent, the poll found. The survey of 400 likely
      voters had a margin of error of plus or minus five
      percentage points.



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