The IBEW has few friends more reliable than New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan. That’s according to Joe Casey, who has worked closely with her for more than a decade protecting working men and women in the Granite State.
|Democratic New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan greets supporters at a campaign event. She faces incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte in November.
Last year, when the two-term governor announced she would challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, labor leaders were ecstatic.
“Having Maggie Hassan in the U.S. Senate would be unbelievable for the IBEW and for all of organized labor,” said International Representative Casey, who is the former business manager of Dover, N.H., Local 490. “She was our go-to member in the New Hampshire Senate whenever labor issues came up, and she’s been even stronger as governor.”
Casey said when issues like a recent bill scaling back requirements on the use of arc-fault circuit interrupters came up, Hassan often called him even before he could reach out to her. “Who knows these issues better than us?” he said. “We explained it was a dangerous idea, and she vetoed it. It was the right decision, and she came to us for an expert opinion.”
On the issue of the Northern Pass transmission line proposed to connect abundant hydroelectric power on Canada’s East Coast with the energy-hungry New England power grid, Hassan has supported the construction even over the objections of members of her own staff. The project, which crosses the White Mountain National Forest, would create hundreds of IBEW jobs in the state, and revised plans call for 60 miles of lines to be buried to avoid controversial obstruction of scenic views.
“On Northern Pass and other job-creating measures, the governor has been with us even when other members of the Democratic party weren’t,” said Local 490 Business Manager Denis Beaudoin, the state’s grassroots political coordinator. “You don’t get any of that from her opponent, Kelly Ayotte.”
Ayotte, he said, is against a $15 minimum wage, against prevailing wage, against the NLRB’s fair election rules and supported Colombian, Panamanian and Korean trade deals that sent American jobs overseas. She also supported “fast-track” authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal with other Pacific rim countries in June of 2015.
“The contrast between the two of them really couldn’t be clearer,” Beaudoin said. “We can count on Maggie to protect working families, whereas Ayotte’s vote is for sale to the highest bidder.”
Those differences are driving IBEW members to make sure they’re registered to vote before Nov. 8, and Beaudoin is planning a multi-pronged attack when it comes to getting union members to the polls.
“We’re working with the AFL-CIO to coordinate door-knocking and phone-banking campaigns between now and November,” Beaudoin said. He is also planning bi-weekly mailings and working with other locals to coordinate their message to members at regular meetings. “Things will really get going full-steam after Labor Day.”
“Choices don’t get any easier than this one,” Casey said. “Hassan’s been good to us, and we’re going to work hard to send her to Washington in November.”
Home page Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Marc Nozell.