Construction workers interviewed in the union and Democratic stronghold of Boston say that Iraq, health care and jobs are their main concerns in the upcoming national elections. And no matter what the union, views are strong and similar.
"The war is a big issue," says Scott A. DeMello, of carpenters union Local 33. "I want all our boys back home. I think that theyre doing a great thing fighting the terrorists there but we need to get out when its finished."
Richard J. McPhail, steward for ironworkers union Local 7, agrees that the biggest issue is Iraq. "Young soldiers are getting killed for no reason and I feel mislead," he says. "Its hard to get out. Were now stuck in the middle and we arent solving anything."
"That place [Iraq] is worse than Vietnam," adds Paul J. McCormick, member of tunnel workers Local 88 and an ex-Marine.
Besides Iraq, workers mirror their colleagues in other regions with worries about health care. "It should be reformed or made universal like Canada to reduce costs. Malpractice insurance is so high its driving doctors out of the city," says one member of operating engineers union Local 4. "Every raise we get goes to health and welfare," adds ironworker McPhail.
"We need to do something about social security and medicare," claimed one member of laborers union Local 223. "The elderly need more health care. My mother, who worked until she was 74, gets $894 a month. How can she live on that and pay for medicine?"
All agree that the country needs more jobs and that the federal government should spend more money on infrastructure improvements. "Work is a big issue," says McPhail. "Weve got 300 to 400 members not working [and] people are worried about jobs." He adds that many workers believe Republicans are against unions. "Bush wants to stop overtime pay and Republicans are trying to steal our benefits," says McPhail.
Most union workers interviewed also believe Democrats are the better bet for keeping the economy strong. "The Democrats would keep the building [programs] going as opposed to the Republican military mindset," says one carpenter with Local 33.