In the States: Working People Across the Country Respond to Midterm Elections

In the States: Working People Across the Country Respond to Midterm Elections

Across the country, working people showed up in significant numbers on Election Day to make our voices heard. And while we didn’t win every race, we fought hard to make sure that as many winning candidates as possible are champions of working people.

Here is what working people advocates around the country said about the 2018 midterm elections.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

California voters cast their ballots for progress today, electing Gavin Newsom to lead our state into the future and rejecting the cynical Prop. 6, which would have eliminated thousands of projects vital to our transportation infrastructure.

In California, we vote our values. The results of tonight’s election are clear evidence that Californians reject gutter politics and instead fight for a hopeful future in which all working people share in the pursuit of the American Dream.

While we’re still waiting for returns on several key races for working people, the energy and enthusiasm from union volunteers who worked for months through this evening to turn out every last vote this year was off the charts. The massive voter mobilization from California unions once again shows that there’s no substitute for in-person conversations that engage voters on issues that matter to their families. That’s the bread and butter of the labor campaign that could make all the difference in tight races yet to be decided.

We congratulate Newsom on his election as California’s next governor and look forward to working closely with him to advance workers’ core rights and lead on expanding access to affordable health care and protecting immigrant workers from Trump’s attacks. We’re also thrilled California continues to elect bold leaders to other statewide offices who will ensure our state aggressively moves to grow our economy from the bottom up, tackle income inequality and gender and racial discrimination, and expand voting access.

Led by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, unions went all-in to defeat the harmful Prop. 6 measure pushed by right-wing extremists. By rejecting Prop. 6, voters solidified support for investing in road and bridge safety and infrastructure. This is a huge win for workers and our state’s future.

Colorado AFL-CIO President Josette Jaramillo:

Across Colorado, truck drivers, electricians, social workers, flight attendants, teachers, pipefitters and more came together to set aside party labels and personalities and elect candidates who will lift up workers, not special interests. Workers won big tonight because they made a record-breaking commitment to educate voters on pro-working family candidates. Our people-power made all the difference in moving Colorado to restore an economy and democracy to work for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

Union members know that when working people join together, we have the power to enact incredible change, even in the face of incredible odds. Working people are on the rise in Colorado and we are taking the energy and momentum that powered the Colorado Labor 2018 program to build a long-term, grassroots movement to improve the lives of working families in our great state, including an agenda that includes protecting our voice in the workplace and rewarding hard work with a path to the middle class.

Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier:

Last night was a resounding victory for working people all across our great state.

I am so proud of all the work our members did this election cycle. They knocked tens of thousands of doors, made tens of thousands of phone calls, mailed nearly every member in the state, and made countless visits to worksites to talk with members about the importance of supporting pro-worker candidates. We engaged in this process earlier than we ever have, starting in April of this year, to make sure working people had a voice in the electoral process ahead of both party’s nominating conventions.

But now that the election is over, our new governor and legislature should embrace this momentum to act on the concerns workers articulated during the campaign. They have a tremendous opportunity to invest in workers and build the middle class by embracing and moving a real workers’ agenda. Within the first 100 days, Connecticut should raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, enact earned family and medical leave, prohibit the abusive management practice of “on call scheduling,” and continue to protect working people’s pay, retirement, and health care.

Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber: 

This is a resounding victory for Michigan’s working families who made a clear statement for where they want to see our state head. Gretchen Whitmer has always been a champion of working people and her administration will be one that protects our freedoms in the workplace. Working folks have seen eight years of corporate special interests manipulating the rules, and today people said they’d had enough. We’re setting a new course in Michigan, one where we create an economy that works for everyone. We now have a governor who will fix the damn roads, make education a priority, and put the needs of the people first.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy:

A record number of Minnesotans sent a clear message yesterday by electing the full slate of labor-endorsed candidates to statewide offices, putting a working families majority in charge of the Minnesota House, and sending five labor-endorsed candidates to Congress.

Our volunteer-driven member-to-member political campaign, the largest and most strategic in Minnesota AFL-CIO history, reached tens of thousands of union members at their worksites, at their homes, on their phones, in their mailboxes and on social media.

Union members knew that our very freedom to join together was on the ballot this year and made sure our voices were heard loud and clear.

The 2018 election also sent a record number of labor-endorsed union members and retirees into public office, including Governor-elect Tim Walz, Auditor-elect and former Minnesota AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Julie Blaha, and 22 members to the Minnesota House.

The 2018 election showed that when working people organize, volunteer, and vote; we win. Minnesota’s Labor Movement will continue the enthusiasm of this political campaign into our organizing and legislative work in the months and years ahead.

Nevada State AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Rusty McAllister:

Nevada working families were determined to fill the halls of power with leaders who share our values, who want to make our state and our country a better place for all working people. Across Nevada, union members gave their all in service of that shared goal. Their passion and dedication drove an extraordinary campaign, one that built upon and surpassed our accomplishments in 2016. Working together, we knocked on more than 580,000 doors and spoke to more than 136,000 voters in-person and over the phone about the best candidates for working families and the ballot initiatives that will impact their lives.

Union members know that when working people join together, we have the power to enact incredible change—even in the face of incredible odds. Our 2018 labor political program was an enormous group effort, and we thank everyone who helped to move our state toward a brighter future. We are proud to have done our part to help elect working family champions Jacky Rosen to the U.S. Senate and Steve Sisolak to the Governor’s office, to send a solid, pro-worker majority in our state legislature, and to defeat a risky, corporate-funded energy deregulation effort.

Working people are on the rise in Nevada. We are taking the energy and momentum that powered the Nevada Labor 2018 program and we are building a long term movement to improve the lives of working families. Tonight was filled with many historic victories, but it is not the end. Nevada working people are just getting started.

New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech:

Make no mistake: what made the difference tonight was our unified labor voice as well as the support we received from thousands of union volunteers; national, state, and local affiliates; Central Labor Councils, and Building Trades Councils. By gathering in solidarity every Saturday for labor walks, knocking on more than 366,000 doors, and delivering thousands of mail pieces around the state, we showed the nation what it means to be union strong.

This election is only the beginning. Organized labor will use this momentum to usher in a new era of progress for all working people that is long-overdue. Together, we made the difference, and together we will continue to be the driving force that moves our state forward and fulfills the promise of fairness, dignity, respect, and opportunity for all working people.

New Mexico Federation of Labor: 

New Mexico working families were determined to fill the halls of power with leaders who share our values and ensure voters were informed and engaged regarding candidates on the ballot that would shape the future of our state. Across New Mexico, union members gave their all in service of those shared goals. Their passion and dedication drove an extraordinary labor political campaign. Working together we knocked over 20,000 doors, made over 112,000 phone calls, and contacted union members and their families more than 133,000 times throughout this election cycle.

Union members know that when working people join together, we have the power to enact incredible changeeven in the face of incredible odds. Our 2018 labor political program was an enormous group effort, and we thank everyone who helped to move our state toward a brighter future. We are proud to have done our part….

Working people are on the rise in New Mexico. We are taking the energy and momentum that powered the New Mexico Labor 2018 program and we are building a long-term, grassroots movement. Tonight is the end of a long election season, but it is not the end of our efforts to improve the lives of working families. New Mexico’s working people are just getting started.

New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento: 

The collective voice of working people was heard tonight with victories for labor’s candidates for governor, attorney general, comptroller and U.S. Senate. I congratulate Governor Cuomo, our new State Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Their victories are a victory for all working people. Union members worked hard campaigning for each of these candidates because they understand the issues most important to workers.

I am particularly proud of our 2.5 million members, retirees and their families for executing a powerful grassroots campaign. We made 4 million voter contacts through knocking on doors, targeted digital messaging, phone calls, mail pieces, palm cards and emails to union members on the importance of having statewide elected leaders who will fight to protect workers’ rights and grow the middle class.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain:

Oregon’s workers were determined to fill the halls of power with leaders who share our values and ensure voters were informed and engaged regarding initiatives on the ballot that would shape the future of our state. Across Oregon, union members stepped up to make sure we met those shared goals. Their passion and dedication drove an extraordinary campaign. Working together, we knocked on over 110,000 doors and contacted over 210,000 voters by telephone and text message. We reached voters through the mail, on social media and at dozens of worksites. We stood together to do our part to make change happen. 

Union members know that when working people stand together, we have the power to enact incredible changeeven in the face of incredible odds. Our 2018 political program was an enormous collective effort, and we thank everyone who helped to move our state toward a brighter future. We are proud to have helped re-elect Governor Kate Brown, a champion for working people in Oregon, as well as defeat ballot measures 103, 104, 105 and 106 while passing ballot measure 102. Our efforts helped maintain the Oregon Legislature as a place where the needs of working people are heard and where action is taken to fight for our shared prosperity.

Working people are on the rise in Oregon. We are taking the energy and momentum that powered the Oregon AFL-CIO Labor 2018 program and we are building a long-term, grassroots movement. Tonight is the end of a long election season, but it is not the end of our efforts to improve the lives of working families. Oregon’s working people are just getting started.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

After a stunning, against-all-odds election win in March with the first election of Conor Lamb, the Pennsylvania union movement has stayed the course for a meaningful victory for workers and workers’ rights across all of Pennsylvania. Today was an historic win for workers’ rights in our commonwealth. The re-election of Governor Tom Wolf and U.S. Senator Bob Casey is monumental to the securing of workers’ rights in Pennsylvania and across the country. The officers of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO have made the following statements on tonight’s victories for workers. 

“These elections were never about a political party or a candidate; this was and is about the issues that affect the lives of workers and their right to join a union. The right for workers to join together and collectively bargain, the right to health care access and the right to a fair wage and economic opportunity was on the line with today’s election. Pennsylvania voters stood up and cast their votes against anti-union extremists. Let it be known, Pennsylvania is a union state,” remarked President Rick Bloomingdale.

“The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and our union brothers and sisters across the commonwealth have worked hard for the last several months. We’ve reached hundreds of thousands of union households on the doors, on the phones and at their work sites to convey the importance of this election to Pennsylvania union members. Our union member-to-member program in Pennsylvania has reached out to our politically diverse membership in partnership with our 51 affiliate unions in all 67 counties to win victories for union members in Pennsylvania,” stated Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy:

Beto O’Rourke neared the mountaintop by standing up for all Texans who seek a fair shot at better lives. His magnificent campaign lit a spark that together with the deep organizing of labor and allied groups has launched a new political era in Texas. What Beto accomplished is only the beginning. We thank him and look forward to working alongside him for a better future for working families.

Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson:

Union members and their families have been pumped up this entire election cycle. For months, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and our affiliated unions have organized member volunteers to talk to fellow union members about the importance of this election. Working together, our Labor Neighbor grassroots political mobilization program activated more than 1,000 union members who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and wrote handwritten postcards to more than 45,000 union members and their families. By all accounts, the feedback has been that folks were absolutely determined this year to elect people who share our values and care about good jobs. I think tonight’s results reflect that.

At a time when some politicians and judges are attacking our freedom to join together in unions, it’s more important than ever to get engaged, to vote, and then to hold elected officials accountable. That’s exactly what we intend to do. We will take the energy and momentum from this year’s successful election mobilization and use it to continue building our long-term grassroots movement. Union members know that when they join together, they have the power to change things for the better.

Tonight we celebrate the end of a long election season and the gains made by pro-worker candidates. But we are just getting started.

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale:

Wisconsin voters have gone to the polls to reject Scott Walker’s union-busting style of politics and voted him out of office. Tony Ever’s victory is a clear signal that Wisconsinites will not stand for attacks on workers’ rights and our freedom to collectively bargain. We look forward to working with the Evers Administration to restore union rights to every Wisconsin worker, raise wages, fully fund our schools and invest in infrastructure so that we can finally fix our roads and bridges.

Union members have been doing the grassroots work of lacing up our boots and having conversations on front porch steps, in the workplace, over the phone, and at the mail box to ramp up the union vote for pro-worker candidates. The ground work of labor activism made the difference Tuesday.

Kenneth Quinnell
Thu, 11/08/2018 – 12:02

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Updated: November 19, 2018 — 3:45 pm