2020 UPTE Presidential Primary Endorsement Interview Notes

Following is a summary of the content of the presidential primary endorsement interviews that UPTE conducted on January 7 and 8, 2020 as part of our endorsement process. Interview questions were asked by UPTE members of the candidates’ surrogates (or, in the case of Senator Bernie Sanders, the candidate himself).

The notes were taken by UPTE member volunteers. Audio recordings of the interviews can be found HERE (use the password uptevotes2020).

UPTE’s interview panel posed questions based on the top four issues ranked by your votes in our all-member survey last month. They are:

 

Income Inequality Question

Please describe the ways in which the United States economy and tax structure is rigged against workers and the poor. How would you fix the unequal economy and the unequal tax structure to create a society that works for all?

Labor Issues Question

Please describe what it means to you to have a strong labor movement in the United States today. How would you design labor laws so that a strong labor movement could flourish and more fully defend working people?

Healthcare Question

UPTE-CWA Local 9119 has a position in favor of single payer health care to control health care costs and assure access for all. What do you see as the solution to the health care crisis in both the short and long term?

Climate Change Question

UPTE-CWA includes scientific researchers such as myself, who have revealed much of the data we know about the climate crisis. That being said, we are also interested in a just transition from the fossil fuel economy to the green economy of the future. What do you see as a “just transition” away from the fossil fuel economy to the green economy without leaving workers behind?

1-7-19   Tuesday 5 pm — Candidate Pete Buttigieg: Represented by Pete For America senior staffers Tyler Brandon, Derek Walker, Danny Yagen, and Suzanna Fritzberg

Question 1: Economic Justice

The economy has been seeing GDP growth without wage growth, so a Butigieg administration will focus on increasing your paycheck, strengthening worker bargaining rights, and ending right-to-work laws. There will be a penalty for those employers who don’t allow organizing. Taxes will be fairer.

Question 2: Labor Rights

The mayor has marched with workers. He will protect worker unionizing rights, end right to work laws. He will focus on giving people robust retirements and strengthen union rights.

Question 3: Healthcare

Offering “Medicare for all who want it.”  Single payer for poor people. Massively subsidized for middle class, will cap costs to 8.5% of income. Public option health care at first to minimize disruption. Mental health must be treated more seriously. Public option for people who want it.

Question 4: Climate Change

The mayor has experience in helping communities in the transition. Safety net for people affected by transition. R&D for climate change will increase. Get private sector involved—more private sector and market solutions. Inclusion and cooperation of community to build resilience.

Closing Remarks.

Dignity for people – labor & retirement support including offering a public 401K option. Medical care for all people. Opportunity for women in administration and general agenda for women. Economic justice.

1-7-19   Tuesday 7:20 pm — Candidate Elizabeth Warren: Represented By Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (CA-80), Official Surrogate

Question 1: Economic Justice

Core message is to reduce the wealth gap with taxes on the rich: targets top 0.1% with additional taxes on incomes over $50M. Will use this resource to invest in providing resources for everyday people including cancelling student debt of up to $50K.

Question 2: Labor Rights

Make structural change and a progressive agenda to give power into the hands of working people. Labor rights extension including protection for workers, collective bargaining, and organizing rights. Want to tackle the exploitative gig economy.

Question 3: Healthcare

Medicare-for-all. Committed to do this without raising taxes on middle class to pay for it. Involve workers to be at the table in discussion of such a policy to preserve benefits that were bargained for.

Question 4: Climate Change

Green New deal. Zero emissions by 2030. Create new green union government jobs. Will stand up to industry. Will never leave workers out in the cold.

Closing Remarks.

Warren knows the crises: income inequality, jobs, and healthcare. She will have a worker-centered approach to achieving those goals. She understands workers require good secure jobs first in order to tackle other problems. She has plans. She will stand up to corporations and the powerful.

1-8-19   Wednesday 5 pm — US Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders

Question 1: Economic Justice

Wealthy and corporations do not pay taxes while the working class pay the most. Corporations and the wealthy dominate congress. Bernie has 18 bucks average donation. 40 hours shouldn’t be living in poverty. Minimum wage federal of at least 15 USD. Workplace democracy act. Free public higher education. Cancel student debt. Tax the wealthy. Healthcare free single payer for comprehensive healthcare for people. Infrastructure spending creates jobs. Climate change proposal GND for jobs. Not afraid to take on people benefitting from the current system. Equal pay for equal work.

Question 2: Labor Rights

Best record among candidates. More picket line presence than any member in congress. Grew up in working class family. Major reform needed. People want to form unions. Bernie will have a reform bill (workplace democracy act). 50 percent or more sign card will have union. Employers will be fined. End right-to-work. Any federal contractor will have to pay 15 USD/hour. Equal pay for equal work. 2X trade unions membership predicted.

Question 3: Healthcare

Loved ones die because of lack of healthcare. Current system is wasteful and dysfunctional. End all premium in america. End all expenses. Take on big pharma and insurance companies. Current system is outrageous. Single payer will put money back in workers’ pockets. Current system is too complicated.

Question 4: Climate Change

Need to transform our system. Most comprehensive climate change bill. GND. investment in sustainable energy. Workers will be retrained in a just transition framework to new employment in 5 years income jobs training education. Direct government job creation.

Closing Remarks.

Bernie thinks he is the best candidate to defeat Trump. Bernie will take on companies in prison, healthcare, energy, and big pharma sectors. He will do it together with labor movement and social justice movements.

 

1-8-19   Wednesday 6 pm — Candidate Andrew Yang: Represented by Randy Jones, National Political Director, Yang 2020

Question 1: Economic Justice

Government measures success with GDP. It shouldn’t be the case. New measurement will be made — health and well-being in education and real outcomes. Rewrite the rules. Base success on human outcomes.

Question 2: Labor Rights

There has been a destruction of middle class through destruction of union. Income has been distributed upwards. It’s time to rewrite the rules. There has been a workers movement brewing. Guaranteeing labor collective bargaining rights. Appoint labor leaders into government. Bring unions into table for trade deals. Unions must be able to negotiate automation-caused employment issues.

Question 3: Healthcare

Medicare-for-all will beat out private insurance. Yang will not abolish directly private insurance. But will drive insurance out of the market over time.

Question 4: Climate Change

Stop subsidizing fossil fuel industries. Subsidize new green jobs. Make jobs available to communities that are impacted by unemployment in the fossil fuel jobs displacement. The US must be a leader in the manufacture of green technology.

Closing Remarks.

Surrogate comes from working class family and union has been a big part of his life and community. Surrogate believes Yang understand the importance of unions. Yang recognizes union can defend against markets and automation.

 

Click here to return to the endorsement page and to request your ballot.