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Democrats Stick to Their Guns--and to Union Loyalty

February 10, 1986|JOHN BALZAR | Times Political Writer

Look for the union label.

California Democrats did on Sunday when they pondered world peace and the arms race.

At their state party convention at the Biltmore Hotel, Democrats were presented with a 1986 election year platform that deplored the national arms buildup and called for a halt in the manufacturing of any first-strike weapons. The platform specifically pointed to Rockwell International's B1-B bomber, and the MX, the Pershing II and cruise missiles.

Backers of the plank sought to assure California workers that the platform also called for job retraining to help displaced employees who would lose employment if bomber production ceased.

Bruce Lee, western regional director of United Auto Workers and a longtime member of the Democratic National Committee, rose to object, however, saying the issue was not just a matter of jobs, but of union jobs.

A peace plank, Lee declared, "should not highlight programs built by organized labor."

He complained that a newer defense project, the highly secret Stealth bomber, was being developed by non-union workers but that it was not targeted for abolition in the platform.

During a brief convention debate, former state party chairman Peter D. Kelley agreed. "The issue is union jobs versus non-union jobs."

Put that way, what else could the Democrats do? By voice vote, they eliminated the reference to eliminating the B1-B but stayed on record against first-strike weapons.

This was the major item of controversy in the adoption of a 41-page platform setting forth Democratic views on health care, education, crime, the environment and other issues.

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