District News

Organizer Spotlights Workers’ Rights in Run for Arkansas Statehouse


DonaldMcKinney

An IBEW local organizer is running for an Arkansas House seat with the ambitious goal of overturning the state’s anti-union right-to-work law.

 “I’m going to focus on that heavily,” said Donald McKinney, a journeyman inside wireman who joined the Fort Smith, Ark., Local 700 staff as an organizer last year. “States with right-to-work have a higher poverty level, lower average income level, and more safety issues – more deaths and injuries on the job.”

Arkansas was the first right-to-work state – now there are 28 – with voters passing a constitutional amendment in 1944. The laws, which allow workers to reap the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement without contributing to its cost, weaken unions and the ability of workers to bargain fair wages and benefits and protect their health and safety on the job.

McKinney, 41, is running as a Democrat for House District 81, a seat currently held by a first-term Republican. So far, he has no opponent for the May 2018 primary. The general election is Nov. 6.

A married father of four, he served in the Arkansas National Guard for 21 years, retiring in 2016. He’s also second-generation IBEW: His father is Tenth District International Representative Charles McKinney, who joined the union in 1996 when he organized electricians at the small contracting company where he was project manager.

His son started mulling a run for office after the November 2016 election. “I was thinking justice of the peace or the school board, just to get my toe in,” he said. Six months later, a chat with an AFL-CIO political staffer led to a meeting with the Arkansas chair of the Democratic Party, who urged him to run for the statehouse.

kansas House seat with the ambitious goal of overturning the state’s anti-union right-to-work law.

 “I’m going to focus on that heavily,” said Donald McKinney, a journeyman inside wireman who joined the Fort Smith, Ark., Local 700 staff as an organizer last year. “States with right-to-work have a higher poverty level, lower average income level, and more safety issues – more deaths and injuries on the job.”

Arkansas was the first right-to-work state – now there are 28 – with voters passing a constitutional amendment in 1944. The laws, which allow workers to reap the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement without contributing to its cost, weaken unions and the ability of workers to bargain fair wages and benefits and protect their health and safety on the job.

McKinney, 41, is running as a Democrat for House District 81, a seat currently held by a first-term Republican. So far, he has no opponent for the May 2018 primary. The general election is Nov. 6.

A married father of four, he served in the Arkansas National Guard for 21 years, retiring in 2016. He’s also second-generation IBEW: His father is Tenth District International Representative Charles McKinney, who joined the union in 1996 when he organized electricians at the small contracting company where he was project manager.


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