The clock is ticking down to major elections in Virginia, New Jersey, Kentucky and Mississippi, along with a special congressional election in Rhode Island and thousands of city, county and school board races nationwide on the Nov. 7 ballot.
|Kentucky unions are fighting hard to re-elect pro-worker Gov. Andy Beshear, pictured speaking to Louisville Local 369 in July.
Together with area labor councils, IBEW members are taking part in labor walks, phone banking and other activities to get out the vote for union- and worker-friendly candidates, and they are urging people to take advantage of widely expanded early voting options.
Find out how and where to vote early in your state by clicking on an interactive national map at Vote411.org.
In Virginia, unions are fighting to preserve a slim worker-friendly majority in the state Senate and turn the House of Delegates blue to block the hostile agenda of Gov. Glenn Youngkin. IBEW leaders in the state warn that a red trifecta — the governor and both legislative bodies — would usher in new and unprecedented attacks on union jobs, workplace rights, prevailing wage and the overall financial security of working families.
The flip side of that is boxing in Youngkin by holding the Senate and winning back the House, said Charles Skelly, business manager of Richmond, Va., Local 666 and president of the area’s Building and Construction Trades Council.
“I want to see them put some bills on his desk and see if he’s really a friend of the working people — strengthening prevailing wage, worker misclassification. Any number of things that are strong union issues,” Skelly said. “That puts him in a position where he either has to veto our bills or hold his nose and sign them.”
All statehouse seats in both chambers are also up for grabs in New Jersey, where union candidates running for the General Assembly include three IBEW members, all incumbents. Another 15 IBEW members are running in races for mayors, city councils and school boards.
“We’ve got a very aggressive program run through the state AFL-CIO to recruit and train labor candidates,” said Tom Kelly, business agent for East Windsor Local 827’s Hudson unit. “I could easily argue that New Jersey is one of the strongest labor states in the nation and that the IBEW is responsible for much of it, not only in a leadership capacity but in a rank-and-file, boots-on-the-ground capacity.”
Mississippi’s full House and Senate are on the Nov. 7 ballot, too, along with races for governor and other state officials. Unions are backing Brandon Presley for governor, a candidate who has refused to shy away from labor issues in the deep-red state, emphasizing at a rally last weekend that “when we see the union label, it means American-made.” Meanwhile, incumbent GOP Gov. Tate Reeves walked away from reporters who asked him about working Mississippians who can’t afford health care.
Kentucky’s ballot has only statewide offices and local races, aside from one special legislative election. The IBEW and its labor and social justice allies are campaigning vigorously for Gov. Andy Beshear, who in January won the earliest endorsement ever from the Kentucky AFL-CIO.
The federation said it made the historic early call not only to signify labor’s strong support for the incumbent governor but “to demonstrate our resolve to keep Kentuckians safe from the false and harmful policies of our opponents.” Beshear’s challenger, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, has made no secret of his anti-worker agenda, including joining with his red-state counterparts to try to kill the federal Protecting the Right to Organize Act.
Two more states have elections in November., but later in the month. All statehouse and executive offices except for governor in Louisiana will be decided Nov. 18, and a second special election for a U.S. House seat will be held in Utah on Nov. 21.
Find out exactly what races are on your ballot by entering your address on Ballotpedia’s sample ballot page. A similar tool is available at Vote411.
International President Kenneth W. Cooper stressed that various local elections in every state — for school boards, city and county councils, and other municipal boards such as water and sewer commissions — are also crucial to workers and unions.
“Everyone who sits on every one of these boards will face decisions that affect working people, and in some places that includes our own members’ contracts,” he said. “They’re also the ones deciding whether to go with a union or nonunion bidder for construction projects, among the many other issues that matter to us and our families. Which means even if there’s only one race on your local ballot Nov. 7, it matters that you vote.”