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October 2012

IBEW Mobilizes for Races
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Florida IBEW Working Families Unite Against
Romney-Ryan Ticket

As Republicans gathered in Tampa, Fla., for the GOP national convention in August, IBEW members gathered on the streets outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum to talk to delegates and others about the Second Bill of Rights and the importance of a strong middle class.

The pro-worker rally was a kickoff for the fall election season, which has seen unprecedented activism on the part of union members throughout the state — and for good reason. The Sunshine State is a major battleground in the November election, as both Mitt Romney and President Obama see Florida as a vital win in their path to the presidency.

And the IBEW is playing a key part in keeping Florida in the hands of pro-worker politicians. Its message for members and their families, says Fifth District International Representative Brian Thompson: you can't afford a Romney presidency.

"He's come out against prevailing wage and project labor agreements, and for a national right-to-work law," says Thompson, who serves as the state's grassroots political coordinator. "All things that lower living standards for workers."

To prove his point, Thompson has been showing clips of the former Massachusetts governor's speech before the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors last April, in which Romney inveighed against "union bosses," at IBEW meetings throughout the state.

"We're using his own words," says Thompson. "It shows it isn't just campaign rhetoric on our part."

Florida was scene to massive rallies last year in response to Gov. Rick Scott's efforts to eliminate project labor agreements and collective bargaining rights for teachers, firefighters and health-care workers.

Verizon employee and Tampa Local 824 member Jason Smith says Scott's attacks on working people caused many IBEW members who voted for the governor in 2010 to develop a case of buyers' remorse.

"I run into members all the time who admit to me they really regret voting for him," Smith says. "Too many members didn't do their homework, a mistake we don't want to see repeated."

The IBEW is also supporting the re-election of Sen. Bill Nelson and pro-worker congressional candidates throughout the state.

"These folks have been there on important issues that affect our members and middle class families," says Thompson.

"We got phone banks up and running, we're knocking on doors and talking about the election at every meeting," says Thompson.

"I'm involved in the 2012 elections because I don't want to lose the rights that we have — like women's rights, the right to choose and our right to negotiate. As union members, we won't agree on everything. But if we don't come together to support candidates who will stand up for core issues — our human rights — like earning a decent livelihood and securing decent medical care, we will hurt ourselves. What good is fighting for gun rights if you don't have a job and can't afford a gun?"

Medina Johnson
Durham, N.C., Local 289