IBEW 1245 organizing stewards helped carry several candidates across the finish line in the Nov. 4 General Election, demonstrating that strategic political action can defend working families even in an election where corporate candidates won most of the battles nationally.
Successful negotiations in the public sector can get ugly fast when the wrong people sit across the table. Reaching out to union households in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 4 election, IBEW 1245 campaigners rang doorbells and made phone calls to get the right people elected, scoring several important victories where members’ interests were on the line.
- Gregg Fishman won a seat on the Board of Directors of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, where IBEW 1245 represents about 500 members.
- Bob Lingl appears to have won election as Mayor of the City of Lompoc, where IBEW 1245 represents 163 members.
- Jeff Marchini was elected to the Board of Directors of the Merced Irrigation District, where IBEW 1245 represents 74 members.
- Alan Nakanishi and Wendel Kiser appear to have won election, with the union’s help, to the City Council in Lodi , where iBEW 1245 represents 29 members.
- Joel Young and Mark Williams were elected to the Board of Directors of AC Transit, where IBEW 1245 represents 24 members. The union-backed candidate for a third seat fell short of victory.
- Abel Guillen and Anne Campbell Washington won election to the City Council for the City of Oakland, where IBEW 1245 represents 14 members.
- Jim Oddie was elected to the City Council for Alameda, where IBEW 1245 represents 31 members. A union-backed candidate for a second seat on the Council made a good showing but fell short of victory.
- Kristin Shrader, Francie Sullivan and Brent Weaver all won election to the City of Redding, where IBEW 1245 has faced significant obstacles at the bargaining table in past years. The union represents 225 members at Redding.
- Dennis Moreland was re-elected to the South Feather Water and Power Board in Division 3. Moreland was challenged by a former Oroville City Council member, but maintained his seat with support from Local 1245 members. The also worked to elect John Starr to the South Feather Water and Power Board in Division 5. Starr defeated an anti-union candidate.
In the California legislature, which has significant influence over workers’ wages and safety, IBEW 1245 campaigners helped propel candidates to victory in two key races. Connie Leyva appears to be the winner in the race for the State Senate in District 20 and Adam Gray was re-elected to the State Assembly from District 21. Luis Chavez, candidate for State Senator in the Fresno area, was defeated despite backing from IBEW 1245.
In Nevada, candidates for Lt. Governor, State Treasurer and Secretary of State were swept away by the Republican wave, despite on-the-ground assistance from IBEW 1245 reaching out to union households. The union-backed candidate for Attorney General also lost, although that race was very close.
Honing Our Skills
It would be a great world if workers didn’t have to constantly fight to protect themselves against powerful economic interests that are ripping apart the middle class. But that’s not the world we live in, and IBEW 1245 continued to hone the skills and expand the pool of our organizing stewards by dispatching them to help with key races in several “battleground” states. In three states those efforts paid off with important victories.
In Colorado, IBEW 1245 campaigners helped make the difference in the re-election campaign of Gov. John Hickenlooper, who squeaked out a victory against challenger Bob Beauprez. A bill to terminate collective bargaining rights for state employees has made progress recently in the Colorado Legislature and unions feared it might become law if Beauprez won the election. IBEW 1245 campaigners also reached out to union households in an effort to help re-elect Senator Mark Udall, but it was not enough to rescue Udall’s troubled campaign.
In Pennsylvania, IBEW 1245 campaigners worked hard on labor’s campaign to elect Tom Wolf, who was ultimately successful in his bid to oust Gov. Tom Corbett. Corbett was the first Pennsylvania governor in modern history to be defeated in a re-election bid.
In Alaska, IBEW 1245 campaigners helped the successful effort to repeal Ordinance 37 in Anchorage. This dreadful ordinance, aimed at city workers, imposed strict limits on negotiated wage hikes, outlawed the right to strike, eliminated binding arbitration, and allowed the city to outsource city work to private contractors. Voters rejected Ballot Measure 1 by a 54-46 margin, effectively repealing Ordinance 37.
IBEW 1245’s Alaska team enjoyed another success: they helped pass a measure to hike the state’s minimum wage to $9.75 by 2016, further stoking a national movement to boost wages for the nation’s most impoverished workers.
They also reveled in what appears to be a narrow victory for Bill Walker, the independent candidate for Alaska governor. IBEW 1245 campaigners also reached out to union households to re-elect US Senator Mark Begich, but they could not turn the tide. Begich lost.
IBEW 1245 campaigners were also on the ground in Kansas, where gubernatorial hopeful Paul Davis narrowly lost in his bid to unseat Gov. Sam Brownback, who has made it a priority to strip teachers of their collective bargaining rights. Similarly, in Wisconsin IBEW 1245 campaigners fell short in their effort to unseat Gov. Scott Walker, who has been a national leader in the effort to take away collective bargaining rights for public employees.
If you want to measure success by how many battles you win, IBEW 1245 members were big winners in many local races—victories that will likely help their fellow union members in future collective bargaining. But if you want to measure success more broadly—by how well you build solidarity and prepare for future campaigns in defense of workers’ rights—IBEW 1245 members were winners everywhere they went.
The IBEW 1245 Campaigners
The following IBEW 1245 members assisted with campaigns in the following areas, with support from IBEW 1245 Organizers Fred Ross Jr. and Eileen Purcell.
- Eric Sunderland
- Ivan Pereda
- Jason Preston
- Harold Blackshire Jr.
- Walter Carmier
- Mike Patterson
- Rachel Ramirez-Hill
- Rodrigo Flores
- Lloyd Cargo
- Rosario Garcia
- Georgette Carrillo
- Linda Letzer
- Tanny Hurtado
- Jaime Tinoco
- Mark Larsen (and various 1245 staff members)
- Chip Chadwick
- Veronica Rivera
- Dorine Shaner
- Nilda Garcia
- Kevin Krummes
- Craig Tatum
- Kristen Rasmussen
- Eric Wolfe
- PJ Saenz
- Lupe Flores
- Anthony Seemster
- Melissa Becerril
- Jammi Juarez
- Mike Musgrove
- Miguel Pagan
- Donchele Soper
- Steve Marcotte
- Rene Cruz-Martinez
- Mike Grimm
- Carl Olguin
- Logan Jonas