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October 2012

IBEW Mobilizes for Races
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Montana IBEW Campaigns to Block

For Montana working families, there are two things on the line this November: keeping the U.S. Senate out of the hands of anti-worker extremists and stopping right-to-work legislation dead in its tracks.

Pro-worker Sen. Jon Tester is in a tight race with Tea Party activist Rep. Denny Rehberg. An advocate for farmers and veterans, Tester has a built a strong relationship with the state's labor movement to help create good jobs and uphold decent working conditions.

"Jon's been a strong advocate for Montana families, someone who sees unions as partners, not adversaries, in putting the economy back together," says Eighth District International Representative Don Herzog.

Tester's defense of the middle class against corporate special interests has made him one of the top targets of wealthy anti-worker groups like the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity, which is spending millions on negative TV ads throughout the state.

"The sheer number of misleading and nasty ads against Jon is incredible," says Herzog, who also serves as the IBEW's grassroots political coordinator for the state.

He says the IBEW is working at cutting through the negative spin and educating members on Tester's stands on the issues that affect them: prevailing wage, project labor agreements, rights on the job and retirement security. He has helped a group of MasTec satellite workers file charges with the National Labor Relations Board over unlawful firing and harassment of employees who were trying to organize for better working conditions.

Tester is also proposing a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which gives corporations the right to secretly donate unlimited funds to political campaigns.

"All Denny Rehberg cares about is the 1 percent," says Butte Local 44 Assistant Business Manager Dan Flynn.

The race for governor is another key campaign for the IBEW. Attorney General Steve Bullock is hoping to succeed term-limited Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Bullock, who has made a career of fighting for consumer rights, is facing former Rep. Rick Hill.

Hill is a supporter of so-called right-to-work legislation, which would weaken the voice of working families while strengthening the power of big corporations.

Hill has outraised Bullock by a 2-to-1 margin, but Flynn says grassroots mobilizing — phone calls, door knocking and workplace leafleting — can beat back the GOP's money advantage.

"We have to prevent right-to-work laws from spreading. We can never give up on getting candidates elected who will honor union rights and the right of workers to organize."

Jacquie Fields
Treasurer, Local 21