Doyle gets Teamsters’ backing

August 27, 2008
Tribune Review

The Teamsters Joint Council 40 has endorsed a slate of Western Pennsylvania incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Republican Tim Murphy.

Other endorsements of the area’s representatives to Congress include Reps. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, Jack Murtha, D-Johnstown, and Mike Doyle, D-Swissvale.

Unions long have been a key Democratic constituency, but the union has supported Murphy, of Upper St. Clair, “almost since the beginning of his political career,” said Roy Marshall, president of the local council.

“The Teamsters kind of play both sides of the aisle,” Marshall said. “We try to work with the candidate, rather than the party.”

The union’s two joint councils covering Pennsylvania represent about 95,000 workers, some of whom are in southern New Jersey and the West Virginia panhandle. It was one of the largest to endorse Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary in April. There are about 34,000 Teamsters in the Western Pennsylvania district, Marshall said.

Marshall cited Murphy’s support of the Employee Free Choice Act, a proposed law that would make it easier for workers to form and join unions, as one of the reasons it supports him. The act, which passed the House this year but was filibustered by Senate Republicans, is a priority of many labor unions, including the Teamsters.

“He has always been very supportive of those kinds of things,” Marshall said.

Murphy is running for re-election against Monroeville Democrat Steve O’Donnell, and said he’s gotten numerous labor and business endorsements because his votes haven’t been “straight party politics.”

“We built a strong relationship over the years on the issues of jobs, health care and, more recently, energy independence,” Murphy said.

O’Donnell also supports the Employee Free Choice Act, said his campaign manager Mike Dineen. At least four unions and labor councils have endorsed O’Donnell, Dineen said. They include the United Auto Workers Local 544 and the Pittsburgh Area Retired Postal Workers.

“The Teamsters are a worthy union and, unfortunately, they went with Tim Murphy, but we are going to continue our campaign to spread the message of change and economic development here in the 18th (Congressional District),” Dineen said.