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IBEW Members Make the Difference on Election Day


November 7, 2012

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From Florida to North Dakota, IBEW members and their families helped make the difference on Election Day, from reelecting Barack Obama and Joe Biden to a second term to helping pro-worker candidates win seats in Congress. 


Says IBEW President Edwin D. Hill:

I congratulate President Obama and all of last night’s winners. I want to give a big thank-you to all of our members who worked so hard to make this victory possible. All the brothers and sisters who made the phone calls, knocked on doors, talked to their co-workers about the importance of making their voices heard at the polls – you and the entire labor movement helped turn the tide against the politics of obstruction and economic extremism. Last night wasn’t just a victory for Obama – it was victory for every American who believes in shared prosperity, investing in our middle class and economic opportunity for all.

Florida was one of the tightest of the swing states. Says Tampa, Fla., Local 824 member Jason Smith about Obama’s narrow victory:

There is no doubt that the labor movement played a huge role in what happened last night. It was an affirmation of the power of pro-middle class grassroots politics.

Defying the polls, Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney by more than 100,000 votes in the Sunshine State. Smith says the IBEW and unions throughout the state mobilized members to get out the vote and educate working families about the high-stakes stakes involved.

Smith says:

Romney ran one of the most anti-worker campaigns in recent history so I’m happy to know that the federal government won’t be coming after my rights. If it wasn’t for the groundwork we did around fighting Gov. Rick Scott’s attacks on workers’ rights last year, we wouldn’t have been able to turn out the vote the way did.

In perhaps the biggest battleground state, IBEW members were out in full force to win Ohio for Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Joe Nardella, a journeyman inside wireman and Youngstown, Ohio, Local 64 registrar, worked to turn out Eastern Ohio. Through the local AFL-CIO, Nardella and a regular contingent of members knocked on doors, put up signs, stuffed envelopes with information and phone-banked.

Nardella says that union members’ support for Obama and Brown were strong. On the Thursday before Election Day, he was walking the streets of Warren, north of Youngstown. Says Nardella:

They’re all on board. We’re pretty true blue.

And the polling bore this out. According to pollster Hart Research, more than 60 percent of union voters said they voted for Obama – higher than in 2008.

In Massachusetts, IBEW members played a pivotal role in one of country’s most watched Senate races – the contest between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown.

Says Boston Local 2222 member Paul Feeney, a Verizon technician who also serves as the local’s legislative director:

This was an unprecedented effort by organized labor. The IBEW in particular came together in a way I haven’t seen in Massachusetts.

Feeney says the IBEW went beyond sending out mailers and PAC checks.

He says:

We had one-on-one conversation in the workplace. We went out to our communities. We sent out messages on Facebook and Twitter. Most importantly, we empowered our stewards to talk about politics, providing them with information needed to inoculate members against all the false ads and nonsense you hear on right-wing TV and radio.

In addition to helping consumer advocate Warren defeat Brown, union members also elected Joe Kennedy III to Congress in the state’s most tightly contested House race.

Feeney says of the congressman-elect, who is the grandson of Sen. Robert Kennedy:

Sen. Ted Kennedy used to say you spell Kennedy ‘l-a-b-o-r.’ Well Joe is cut from the same cloth.

To the north in New Hampshire, pro-worker candidates, from Obama down to the state legislature, also had a good night. The reason, says Manchester Local 2320 member Kelly Upham-Torosian:

We walked, we talked, we knocked. It’s what union members do best.

In addition to winning New Hampshire for Obama, union members also helped return Carol Shea-Porter – a longtime ally of working families – to Congress.

Working people also spiked potential right-to-work legislation by electing Maggie Hassan, a strong opponent of anti-worker legislation, governor.

Upham-Torosian was on the ballot herself, running for the state legislature in one of New Hampshire’s reddest districts. While falling short in her campaign, she says more union members should follow her example and run for office themselves.

She says:

Like I said to my son, if you fear losing, you’ll never stand a chance of winning. We need union members to put themselves out there and win office.