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VA Gov. Candidate Verbally Supports Unions, Workers, but Won’t Likely Target “Right-to-Work” Status


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Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has been taking his case directly to the working people of the commonwealth, promising to help unions restore their power in the state if elected.  The former head of the Democratic National Committee who, as a 22-year old National Financial Director for Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign wrestled an eight-foot, 260-pound alligator to secure a $15,000 donation, is making his second run at the Governor’s mansion taking the issue of transportation with him.  For union members this is important as the state’s right wing has been impeding progress on the Dulles Metrorail extension due to its Project Labor Agreement (PLA).  McAuliffe has said “it’s time to explore and fully fund the standards of quality.”

McAuliffe’s opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has been among the main figures slowing transportation in the name of union-bashing.  This issue is becoming a main focus in a hotly contested Governor’s race.  A report for NBC news draws attention to a wave of ads about transportation which McAuliffe has been running throughout the state. “While Terry McAuliffe supported Governor McDonnell’s bipartisan transportation compromise,” campaign spokesperson Josh Schwerin said, “Ken Cuccinelli tried to derail it every chance he got.  Improving the transportation system is the business community’s top priority and critical to improving quality of life for all Virginians.”

Instead of countering the issue with proposals to take action, Cuccinelli has gone the ideological broad stroke route and painted McAuliffe as “indebted to big labor.” A Cuccinelli spokesperson said of McAullife:

“Even after members of his own party said Terry McAuliffe had nothing to do with passing the transportation legislation, McAuliffe is still trying to take credit for a project in which he played no role.  In reality, Terry McAuliffe is indebted to Big Labor bosses who sought out project labor agreements, which would have cost Virginia $300 million for Phase Two of the Silver Line project.  Ken Cuccinelli’s top priority for transportation is congestion relief in the most cost-effective way possible, this stands in stark contrast to Terry McAuliffe who takes credit when none is due, deliberately misleads about his business record and refuses to defend the Commonwealth’s right-to-work law.”

“Right-to-Work” has come up in conversation as something that might be movable should McAuliffe win the job. But while the conservative Cuccinelli’s position on the matter is predictable common knowledge, McAullife has not been willing to say what liberals and labor would like to hear:

“McAuliffe also declined to say whether he would protect the commonwealth’s status as a right-to-work state or search for ways to make the state more friendly toward organized labor. ‘I’m going to work with management. I’m going to work with labor. I’m going to work with everybody to move Virginia forward,’ McAuliffe said. ‘It’s not ‘either-or.’ We are a right-to-work state that has been here for many years, and it’s not going to change. But the focus has got to be not on trying to divide folks. [It] is, how do we work together to grow the Virginia economy to have the most diverse economy to bring in those 21st-century jobs?’”

The truth is that it is unlikely McAuliffe could find the votes to overhaul Virginia’s “Right-to-Work” law. Still, his pro-worker stance is encouraging. At a recent Northern Virginia Technology Council forum, both candidates took questions from business leaders.  McAuliffe expressed a firm desire to move forward with the aforementioned Dulles Metrorail expansion under a PLA.  Cuccinelli has opposed such action in the past and and present:

Northern Virginia business leaders, who lobbied hard this year for a transportation funding fix, twice asked Cuccinelli if he would undo Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature legislative achievement — a $6 billion tax hike needed to improve the region’s crumbling, congested roads. Cuccinelli, who denounced the deal as a “massive tax increase,” reassured his audience that he would not try to repeal the law and pledged to be a better stewart of the road funds than McAufliffe.

“Do you want ‘Union Terry’ spending this money, or ‘Frugal Ken?’” asked Cuccinelli.

Union Terry. It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?


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