Nader Calls for Labor-Environmentalist Unity

Presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader stressed unity between union workers and environmentalists during a campaign stop today.

Nader, the Green Party nominee, said he’s the better candidate for those groups because Republicans and Democrats are only paying them lip service.

His speech comes about two weeks after he sent letters to a half-dozen steel company chief executives, asking them to respond to worker requests for improved labor conditions.

Nader today criticized mainly Middletown-based AK Steel and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Members of United Steelworkers Local 169 have been locked out of AK Steel’s Mansfield plant since Sept. 1 when their contract expired.

The company has sued the United Steelworkers union to accuse it of backing violence for years against the company and others during labor issues. Union officials deny the allegations. The case awaits trial.

Steelworkers spokesman Tony Montana said the union has already endorsed Vice President Al Gore, but members attended Nader’s rally to bring attention to labor and environmental issues.

Battling for the Buckeye State

Nader’s supporters say they’ve collected enough signatures to get him on the Ohio ballot in November. He has to file as an independent because the Green Party does not have ballot status in Ohio.

Although still a long way behind major party candidates Gore and George W. Bush, Nader has risen in national polls in recent weeks, getting as much as 7 percent in some polls. He received 4 percent of the support in an Ohio Poll released this week.

Today, Nader also criticized the Ohio EPA, which is being investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In the past three years, four groups have filed petitions with the U.S. EPA, accusing the state of not enforcing federal environmental laws.

Ohio Citizen Action, the Ohio chapter of the Sierra Club, Rivers Unlimited and the Ohio Public Interest Research Group asked the U.S. EPA to withdraw state oversight of the federal Clean Water, Clean Air and Resource Conservation and Recovery acts. The petitions ask that the federal agency take over responsibility for enforcement of these laws.

The state EPA has said it doesn’t believe the complaints have any merit but that the agency would cooperate with its federal counterpart.