Celebrate the Union Wave but Beware of the Grinch
Voter turnout hit a 50-year high in the midterm elections which concluded on November 6. Looking at the outcomes, it appears many Americans (or at least enough to determine election outcomes) are unconvinced by the policies of the current administration and are still looking for answers.
There is no denying that many union-dense states with economies that rely on manufacturing jobs took a chance in 2016, and voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump over the candidate endorsed by their union. However on November 6, 2018, the vast majority of those states went against the president’s endorsements, and instead voted for numerous first-time and labor-backed candidates.
Voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois knocked out incumbent governors, and opted for leaders who pledged to put an end to anti-worker “Right to Work” laws that have been passed since 2010.
In states like Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Minnesota, labor-endorsed candidates won when they ran on a platform of strengthening unions, reigning in corporations, refusing corporate campaign contributions, and protecting our right to health care and Social Security. Labor-friendly candidates also came incredibly close to pulling off historic upsets in Texas (U.S. Senate) and Georgia (Governor).
According to a report by the AFL-CIO, more than 743 union members ran for office and won election up and down the ballot; including the Governorship in Minnesota, and in Congressional Districts, State Legislatures and local governments from California to New Jersey. Additionally, union election campaigns accounted for nearly 2.5 million door knocks, 5 million worksite fliers, and more than 12 million mail pieces.
However, we shouldn’t become complacent with the elections being over. Many of the candidates who won an election on November 6, defeated incumbents who seized on “lame duck” sessions in 2010 to rush through controversial, anti-union measures before newly-elected legislators took office in January 2011.
It is important for us to keep in mind how legislators have used “lame duck” sessions as an opportunity to do some very bad things while voters are complacent and focused on their busy holiday routines. We should certainly enjoy our holiday season, but be prepared and watchful just in case the Grinch decides to come early.