A tsunami of outrage over the depressed state of the economy has put the next Congress under Republican control, but did not uproot several important allies of working people in California and Nevada.
IBEW Local 1245 members and retirees were part of a massive “get out the vote” campaign in Nevada that kept Senator Harry Reid in office, despite the unanimous verdict of opinion polls that Reid would lose his race against Tea Party wingnut Sharron Angle.
In California, Local 1245 members joined with thousands of other unionists to expose the anti-worker agenda of billionaire gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who had pledged to fire 40,000 public sector workers if elected. Whitman lost by double-digits to the once-and-future governor, Jerry Brown.
Local 1245 members also helped beat back a challenge to Senator Barbara Boxer from Carly Fiorina, the discredited former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Boxer, who has been a strong supporter of Local 1245 on issues important to workers, won by a margin of 9%.
In Redding, where public employee benefits have been under harsh attack by a conservative majority on the City Council, Local 1245 members successfully campaigned for the election of Francie Sullivan. A former Shasta County supervisor and community volunteer, Sullivan has strongly criticized the majority’s “get tough” message as political posturing at the expense of city workers.
But two other labor-backed candidates in Redding fell short in their quest for seats on the Council, leaving Local 1245 and other unions still with just two friendly faces out of five.
“It was tough, winning only one of the three races we contested in Redding,” said Local 1245 Senior Business Rep. Ray Thomas. “But IBEW members deserve a lot of credit for their unselfish commitment to the campaign over the last six months. They walked precincts after work and during weekends, and we also had members phone banking and contacting business owners. Our fight was valiant.”
The news was better at Lassen Municipal Utility District, where Local 1245 members welcomed the defeat of long-time LMUD Director Wayne Langston, who was unseated by union-backed Jess “Steve” Urionaguena. Urionaguena received nearly 59% of the vote.
“The membership is really happy about Langston’s defeat,” said Thomas.
There was also good news for labor in the election results from the City of Alameda, Business Rep. Hunter Stern reported.
“In a heated campaign, union members helped elected a labor-friendly mayor and two labor-friendly City Council members, each of whom have pledged to ensure the city maintains equitable bargaining practices, something that hasn’t happened over the last few years,” Stern said.
An important part of the union’s mission, enshrined in its by-laws, is to support candidates and legislation that “will be to the benefit of members of this Union or of working men in general,” and to oppose candidates and legislation that “will be to their detriment.”
Local 1245 members took that task to heart in this year’s general election, and, despite the tidal wave, have kept allies in power in key posts.