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Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan meets with Building Trade Unions to discuss 2010 campaign

10.03.09

October 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan meets with Building Trade Unions to discuss 2010 campaign

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, September 4th- Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan will challenge incumbent Republican United States House of Representative for the 15th Legislative District Charlie Dent in 2010 and Mr. Callahan wants labor support.

Mr. Callahan, a Democrat, who is seeking re-election as Bethlehem Mayor this year but has no challengers, stated local and national Democrats believe he would be a formidable challenger to Mr. Dent.

Congressman Dent is currently serving a third two-year term in Washington, DC. He defeated Democratic challenger Sam Bennett last year. The 15th Legislative District includes Lehigh and Northampton Counties.

“He is a great candidate. I’m looking forward to the campaign,” said Joe Long, Chairman of the Northampton County Democratic Committee and a retired member of the United Auto Workers of America (UAW).

On September 1st the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley held a strategy session with Mr. Callahan at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 building on Liberty Street in Allentown. The event was attended by leaders of the construction trades unions and several labor leaders from the Lehigh Valley. The Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley has 20 local unions affiliated with the labor federation. The unions represent workers employed within the building and construction industry.

Kenneth Kraft, Assistant Business Manager of the Painters and Allied Trades Union District Council 21, stated a good line of communication between the labor community and the campaign will be necessary if Mr. Callahan is to defeat Congressman Dent.

The 15th Congressional District seat has been held by a Republican for six consecutive terms. Pat Toomey represented the Lehigh Valley in Washington for six years and did not seek a fourth two-year term in 2004. Mr. Toomey has announced he will seek the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 2010. The seat is currently occuppied by Democrat Arlen Specter. Mr. Specter has already announced he will seek another six-year term in 2010.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington tabulates the voting record of legislators toward legislation important to the working people. Since being in the United States Congress, Mr. Dent’s voting record has dropped every year.

According to the review of the report card of the legislators by the newspaper, Mr. Dent in 2006 had nearly a 35 percent labor voting record. However, it dropped to 27 percent in 2007 and is now below 20 percent. In 2009, Mr. Dent failed to support federal “bridge loans” to General Motors and Chrysler, which was important to the UAW.

In 2008 Mr. Dent voted against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)/Card Check legislation. The Congressman also voted against the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which raised the federal minimum wage in three steps to $7.25 per hour.

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