By DAVID A. COOK
Election Day is creeping closer, and by the time you read this we will have had our first presidential debate. By then, the polls may have shifted and perhaps the race is tightening. Maybe one candidate is pulling ahead with a clear lead, or maybe the race will be as close as can be.
By now, many of you should have received a letter from me with information about voting. This is the first of two letters we are sending to our entire membership. It’s purely informational so that our partners know about important dates like the voter registration or mail-in ballot deadlines.
WE NEED YOUR INPUT
No matter what differences our individual partners may have on the issues, I’m sure we can all agree that all voters must have a chance to cast their ballot, and every ballot must be counted.
Soon, you’ll be receiving a second letter from me. I have no doubt that some of you may not agree with all of it, but it’s important to emphasize why and how this letter came to be written.
Hopefully, you have all taken our 2020 “On The Issues” survey. If not, you can still find it on our website or Facebook page.
The survey only takes a minute or two to complete, and we want to hear from every single one of our partners. We’re asking about issues in the workplace that many of you face and that impact us all. We are asking about minimum wage, so-called “right-to-work,” workplace discrimination and more. We want to hear from our partners because very soon we will be endorsing candidates for office.
ADVANCING OUR AGENDA
We don’t take these endorsements lightly, and we know not everyone will agree with them. You’ll notice our survey focuses on workplace issues. We don’t ask about 2nd Amendment issues, or abortion rights. We don’t ask about immigration or about the protests around the country.
We haven’t skipped over issues like these because they are unimportant: they are incredibly important. We have skipped them because we know our role, and we respect our limitations. We advocate on behalf of workers like you seeking better wages and benefits on the job. That is our role.
When we engage in the political process our goal is to advance that agenda: the agenda of fighting for a better life for you and all workers.
We don’t advance that agenda by taking a position on foreign policy or immigration reform. As an individual, I have my own feelings about a wide spectrum of political issues, but as your president, it is my job to advocate for you as a worker and union member.
BACKING CANDIDATES WHO SUPPORT US
When candidates seek office, sometimes they ask Local 655 for financial support or an endorsement. Before we commit to either, we require them to fill out an extensive questionnaire and put their positions in writing. That’s how we decide who to support or endorse. It’s not about a political party, it’s about an ideology. Does their ideology value workers? Does it place a premium on advancing the economic goal of workers with good wages and benefits?
If they are right on the issues, if they stand for workers like you, then and only then can they get our support.
Our “On The Issues” survey reflects the same values we demand in our elected officials. As I suspected, your answers show what you care about, and why. Based on your answers, and the responses of the elected officials seeking our support, we can confidently say that our endorsements reflect the values of Local 655, not a partisan agenda or a culture war.
REGARDLESS OF OPINION, VOTE
I know some of my partners won’t agree with our endorsements, and they have every right to do so. I welcome them to voice their disagreement whenever they like but most importantly: I hope they vote. Our state, our nation, cannot possibly make progress unless we gather together to cast our ballots to settle the issues before us.
Elections have always been contentious and even exhausting, and 2020 isn’t any different. There is a great deal of noise and debate, and our conversations can sometimes feel dominated by political debate.
We have to cast our ballots. We have to consider who stands for us — for hard-working men and women — and who stands for something else entirely. Soon, we’ll be sending out a long list of endorsements, and I urge you to at least consider them when you cast your votes.