There was a full house at the Labor Temple in Sparks, Nevada on Saturday, August 13, 2016, as National AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre spoke to the numerous union members and families who came out to join the 2016 General Election “Super Walk” sponsored by the Nevada State AFL-CIO.
Our contingent from IBEW 1245 – which included Steve Marcotte, Ivan Pereda, Nilda Garcia and her 12-year-old daughter Mariah Cortes, all of whom traveled from California to join us – united with union members from Communications Workers of America, Operating Engineers, Ironworkers, Painters & Plasters, Steelworkers and Carpenters to knock on doors in Nevada and spread the word about the upcoming election.
With Senator Harry Reid retiring, we are losing a great supporter of organized labor in Nevada. We need a representative in the Senate that will support and work for us, and the two candidates who are running to replace Reid couldn’t be more different. Joe Heck has done little or nothing in Washington to support working families. Catherine Cortez-Masto is a far better choice for Senator Reid’s seat.
Gebre underscored that Nevada’s Senate race is just as important as the races in our state houses, especially considering the fact that whoever we elect to the U.S. Senate will likely be voting on Supreme Court judges in the next term.
“The U.S. Senate needs to confirm Supreme Court judges who respect workers, not those that will promote national Right to Work,” said Gebre.
Gebre is a political refugee who came to the United States from Ethiopia when he was just 14 years old. As a young man he became involved in the Teamsters union as a loader at UPS. From there he has worked in various levels of the labor movement, and was elected to his current position as AFL-CIO Executive Vice President in 2013.
Gebre reaffirmed that Nevada is considered a “tier 1” state, which means it’s a top priority for Labor, and the AFL-CIO will fully support us in this election. He encouraged us to go out and talk to our neighbors, have conversations with others about the election, and join together to build up our community of workers.
Gebre emphasized that we have the power to initiate change in Washington. We made the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) politically poisonous by our phone calls to our representatives. But we need to keep that pressure going to make sure that TPP doesn’t surface again after the election in the lame duck session.
Gebre made it clear that the results of this election are in our hands. We have to be mindful of the people we elect in every level of government, from our city councils to our state legislators to our Senator and Congress members all the way to the President. He stressed that we need to elect those who will respect and work for American workers, our families and our values.
“We live in the richest country in the world — yet too many of our workers live in poverty,“ Gebre told the crowd.
Rita Weisshaar is Vice President of the Reno/Sparks Chapter of the IBEW Local 1245 Retirees Club.
Photos by Mike Grimm