The three union member candidates who addressed the recent AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis won their elections! This comes shortly after convention delegates’ adoption of Resolution 10 – Encouraging Union Members to Run for Public Office that pledges to adopt Labor candidate programs in every State Labor Federation and Central Labor Council in the country.
Teresa Mosqueda (OPEIU) will join the soon-to-be majority woman Seattle, WA City Council; Braxton Winston (IATSE) will be the first union member to serve on the Charlotte, NC City Council; and Keith Kazmark (AFT) was re-elected as Mayor of Woodland Park, NJ. Their communities will benefit from the kind of legislation that improves the lives of working people.
CHANGING THE RULES
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has been a strong advocate for electing our members to public office.
“The only way we can change the economic rules is by committing ourselves to independence in politics,” Trumka said. “The rules are written by the people we elect, and for nearly four decades, they have been written to ensure working people are the losers.
“Electing people like Teresa, Braxton and Keith ensures that we have a seat at the table,” he said. “We will continue to work to elect candidates who share our vision to build strong unions, raise wages, and support quality public education, health care for all, modern infrastructure, American-made energy, voting rights, civil rights and worker rights.”
HELPING UNION MEMBERS WIN ELECTIONS
President Charlie Wowkanech of the New Jersey AFL-CIO has helped 900 union members win elections since he began the program two decades ago.
“We started this work 20 years ago because we knew that no one represents working families and their unions better than working people themselves,” Wowkanech said.
“Who better to fight for high quality, public education than teachers and paraprofessionals who dedicate their lives to teaching our children?” he asked. “Who better to fight for quality, affordable health care than our nurses and health care professionals who dedicate their lives to healing others? And, who better to fight for important public services than the people who every day put on a uniform to serve their communities?
“If you really want to see government that serves working people, put working people in charge.”
‘ONE OF OUR OWN’
President Marybe McMillian of the North Carolina AFL-CIO was rightfully proud of the caliber of union member they recruited to run for Charlotte City Council.
“We are excited and proud to have one of our own on the Charlotte City Council,” McMillian said. “As both a community activist and a union activist, Braxton built connections across the Charlotte community. Braxton is smart, energetic, and committed to justice for all working people. With his vision and leadership, I’m confident that he will make Charlotte a better place to live and work.”
A MOVEMENT OF WORKERS
President Jeff Johnson of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO highlighted another important aspect of this work in building our movement.
“To say we won a seat on the city council just scratches the surface of what Teresa’s victory means for us,” Johnson said. “Yes, we have a champion for working people at the table, and I couldn’t be more proud of her, but we also have a movement of workers who are more energized, more engaged and more active because they fought to elect one of their own. Today, the long arm of worker power stretches from the shop floor to city hall.”
AFSCME President Lee Saunders, chair of the AFL-CIO Executive Council’s Political Committee, put the victories in a broader context. It’s not just about electing people, but about the achievements working people make when working people lead.
“When working people have political power, great things happen in America: the middle class grows, wages rise, social justice is served, communities thrive,” Saunders said. “It is thrilling to see these three union members win their elections to advance the freedom of working people.”
CONNECTING WITH VOTERS
That message was re-emphasized by AFT President Randi Weingarten who saw a number of AFT members win elections Nov. 2.
“AFT member Keith Kazmark was one of countless union members, including AFT members in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, elected or re-elected on an Election Day on which Americans delivered two messages. They won’t support fear mongering and race-baiting, and they will elect candidates who truly care for and fight for people and for the values that are important to working folks — public education, affordable health care and good jobs,” Weingarten said.
“Union members connected with voters on these values because these are the values we fight for every day on the job and through our unions. Congratulations to Keith and all of the union members who won on Election Day. We need more union members like Keith in our mayor’s offices and our statehouses and on our school boards.”