Volunteers urgently needed to canvass/phone bank for worker-friendly legislative candidates
By SHERI GASSAWAY
After reviewing the Jefferson County, MO, November 2016 election results in which Republican contenders won almost every seat from president down to county judges, Bart Velasco, then president of the Jefferson County Labor Club, said he felt like he was reading the obituaries.
The 2016 general election left the swing county with only one Democrat out of seven state representatives and two senators. The election also brought in a Republican governor who ran on the promise of making Missouri a “right to work” (RTW) state and a GOP majority in both the house and senate.
At the time, Velasco said, “Organized Labor will win. We just have to stick together. There’s no reason to think the world is going to collapse.”
And he was right. After RTW was approved by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2017, union members, working families and friends of Labor from around the state joined forces collecting more than 310,000 signatures to put a measure on the ballot to defeat RTW (Prop A).
In August, Missourians decisively rejected Prop A by a better than two-to-one majority, 67.5 percent to 32.5 percent.
In conservative Jefferson County, Prop A was overwhelmingly defeated by 78 percent of voters. But in order to prevent the continued attacks on working families, Jefferson County Labor Club President Chuck DeMoulin says the Labor community must continue the momentum shown during the RTW battle into the November mid-term election.
“While the August election was a major win, our fight is not over,” said DeMoulin of IBEW Local 1. “I know I’m preaching to the choir, but we need everyone making phone calls and knocking on doors to get Labor-friendly candidates elected next month or we’re going right back to where working families were before the August election.”
FOUR KEY RACES
In Jefferson County, there are four COPE-endorsed, key House candidates that would tip the scales in favor of working families:
• Rep. Mike Revis (D-Fenton), who won the District 97 seat in the February special election after worker-friendly Republican John McCaherty resigned in September 2017.
Revis has union roots and made national headlines by flipping a key Missouri House seat in a district that President Donald Trump won by 28 points in the 2016 election. District 97 includes portions of Arnold, Fenton, High Ridge and South County.
• Ben Hagin, a field damage claims representative in the insurance industry and the Democratic candidate for District 112, which includes portions of Arnold, Imperial and Barnhart.
Hagin is challenging Rep. Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) who has shown nothing but disdain toward working families and Organized Labor since he took office in 2014.
• Karen Settlemoir-Berg, a director of servicing/union representative for UFCW Local 655 and the Democratic candidate for District 113, which includes portions of Arnold, Imperial and Barnhart.
Settlemoir-Berg is running against two-term Representative Dan Shaul (R-Imperial), who has continuously voted against working families.
• Barb Marco, a semi-retired small business owner and the Democratic Candidate for District 118, which includes parts of Hillsboro, DeSoto and Washington County. She is hoping to replace worker-friendly Representative Ben Harris (D-Hillsboro) who has been term limited.
Other COPE-endorsed house candidates for the Nov. 6 race include worker-friendly Republicans Shane Roden (District 111), Becky Ruth (District 114) and Elaine Freeman Gannon (District 115), all of whom are seeking re-election.
DISTRICT 22 SENATE SEAT
Meanwhile, working families will come out on top regardless of who wins the District 22 Senate seat in Jefferson County. The race is between Senator Paul Wieland (R-Imperial), who has frequently crossed party lines to vote for working families – including voting against RTW – and Democratic challenger Bob Butler, a workers’ compensation attorney and strong supporter of working families. The Missouri AFL-CIO has deemed the contest “Open,” meaning it is not taking a position on the race.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED
To canvass or phone bank:
• Visit the Arnold AFL-CIO office at 30 Fox Valley Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday or contact Tim Owens at 618-531-3515.
• Stop by the Jeffco Forward office, which is located a few doors down from the AFL-CIO office, at 34 Fox Valley Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week or call Blake Lawrence at 314-791-6668; or call Chuck DeMoulin at 314-226-7870.