By CARL GREEN
Collinsville, IL – The Nov. 6 election keeps getting closer, and unions in the Metro East are gearing up to knock on doors and make phone calls in these final weeks to assure the election of candidates who will support working families.
So far, the people that union walkers have been meeting have been very supportive. They just haven’t been sure who to vote for, said Chris Hankins, an IBEW Local 309 organizer who has been leading union election work in Madison County.
“People are really positive,” he told the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council last week. “All these people we talk to are either union members or their families, pretty much. They don’t have a clue who to vote for until you go to the door. You give them a five-minute spiel, and they’re all on board and they thank you for coming.”
But more volunteers are needed from the union ranks.
“We’ve got a lot of walks coming up in the near future, and we need walkers bad,” said Totsie Bailey, executive secretary-treasurer of the Council. “We need people to hand out literature and for phone banking. We need everybody to get involved in this.”
The problem, Bailey said, is the unlimited money available to anti-union, corporate candidates that has distorted local elections.
“Until we get this ‘dark money’ out of these elections, every election from now on is going to be a dogfight,” he said. “We’ve got to get union-endorsed, union-friendly Democrats elected. When people say there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans, well, the hell there isn’t!
“You only lose it once and then you’re done – you never get it back,” he added. “We just can’t compete with these people on the money. The only way we can do it is with people – and with boots on the ground.”
Hankins has been going out with small groups including Steelworkers and teachers’ union members, typically from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “We just need more volunteers.”
RETIREES STEP UP
Local 309 Business Manager Tim Evans said he has noticed a strong response from retiree members.
“The retirees are more fired up about this than anybody,” he said. “It’s not that much pressure to walk for two hours. It’s pretty easy. You‘re usually going to Labor-friendly houses.”
Hankins added, “I haven’t had one jerk yet. They’ve all been your normal, average members. They’re just uninformed and need the information.”
The Illinois AFL-CIO distributed a schedule for its September campaign work in the Metro-East.
Remaining dates and starting times and places this month include:
• Monday, Sept. 24, 5:30 p.m., Pritzker office, Alton.
• Tuesday, Sept. 25, 5:30 p.m., Pritzker office, Alton.
• Wednesday, Sept. 26, 5:30 p.m., Pritzker office, Alton.
• Thursday, Sept. 27, 5:30 p.m., Pritzker office, Alton.
• Saturday, Sept. 29, 9 a.m., USW Local 1899, 2014 State St., Granite City.
• Saturday, Sept. 29, 9 a.m., Laborers Local 670, 101 S. Cherry St., O’Fallon IL.
• Saturday, Oct. 6, 9 a.m., Laborers Local 459, 100 N. 17th St., Belleville.
• Saturday, Oct. 13, 9 a.m., Laborers Local 100, 9439 Lebanon Road, East St. Louis.
• Saturday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m., TBA in St. Clair County.
• Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m., TBA in St. Clair County.
• Saturday, Nov. 3, 9 a.m., Laborers Local 459, 100 N. 17th St., Belleville.
To join a Madison County walk, contact Chris Hankins at 618-781-2037 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For St. Clair County walks, call Mike Todd at 618-616-5001. Or for either county, try Jennifer Curtis at 618-581-4080.
Phone banks are open from 5 to 8 p.m. each Monday through Thursday at two locations, the Illinois Federation of Teachers office, 4 Executive Dr. Suite 8, Fairview Heights, and IBEW Local 702, 106 N. Monroe, West Frankfort. To volunteer in Fairview Heights, contact Lana Turley at email@example.com. For West Frankfort, contact Tate Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-559-1744.
These upcoming walks in southern Illinois have been scheduled. To join or for start times or other information, contact Tate Wright at email@example.com or call 618-559-1744.
• Monday, Sept. 24, walk in DuQuoin and Pinckneyville, meet at UA Apprenticeship School, 100 N. 17th St., Murphysboro.
• Saturday, Sept. 29, Carpenters 640 Hall, 801 Market St., Metropolis.
• Monday, Oct. 1, Goreville/Vienna, location TBA.
• Saturday, Oct. 6, Anna/Cobden, Union County Democratic headquarters.
• Monday, Oct. 8, Laborers Local 1197, 109 W. Market, McLeansboro.
• Saturday, Oct. 13, Harrisburg/Eldorado, meet across from IYC, 1220 W. Poplar, Harrisburg.
• Monday, Oct. 15, Operating Engineers Local 318 Hall, 3310 Water Tower Road, Marion.
• Saturday, Oct. 20, 900 E. Walnut Suite 13, Carbondale.
• Monday, Oct. 22, Murphysboro, location TBA.
• Saturday, Oct. 27, IBEW Local 702, 106 N. Monroe, West Frankfort.
• Monday, Oct. 29, walk in Benton, meet at IBEW Local 702, 106 N. Monroe, West Frankfort.
• Saturday, Nov. 3, walk in Harrin/Carterville, meet at Operating Engineers Local 318, 3310 Water Road, Marion.
• Monday, Nov. 5, 900 E. Walnut Suite 13, Carbondale.