Organized Labor is a powerful force. We have the organizational infrastructure to support millions of Americans, the volunteer base to turn out a crowd, a storied history of delivering significant wins for workers, and the support of over seventy percent of Americans. Our political spending is at a historic high, our partnerships across many sectors and industries continue to grow, and union members nationwide have better protections than they’ve had in decades. None of these things happened by chance. They materialized because we fought, we organized, and we engaged in the political process.
The administration of President Joe Biden should remind each of us how important elections are. He made bold promises to working people when campaigning for the presidency. He promised to make a historic push for Project Labor Agreements if elected, to appoint worker-friendly people to powerful positions, to introduce sweeping measures to upgrade American infrastructure and invest in renewable technology. Love or hate the rest of his politics, he delivered on those promises in his first two years. President Biden has shifted the balance of power back to working people.
The 2022 election is being billed as a referendum on President Biden’s agenda by his detractors. As a Labor movement, we should treat it that way, although for different reasons. If President Biden and working people lose the House and the Senate to obstructionists and union-bashers, the next two years will be stagnant. Even worse, it will create a narrative that being as pro-union as President Biden and his supporters in Congress have been won’t, at the end of the day, deliver wins at the polls. We can’t let that happen.
By the time you’re reading this bulletin, ballots will be hitting mailboxes across the state of California. That means it’s time for us to flex our muscle as a Labor movement. It’s time to show our support for candidates that support collective bargaining, union apprenticeship programs, fair wages, safety on the job, dignity in the workplace, Project Labor Agreements, and skilled and trained worker requirements, among others. We can cast these votes for candidates at every level of government, from local school boards and city councils to congressional and State Senate and Assembly races.
We can also take a historic stand for building trades interests by supporting or opposing local ballot measures. In Los Angeles, for example, voters have a chance to approve a landmark housing measure called ‘United to House LA’ that would fund affordable housing units built by our members. Likewise, in San Francisco voters can choose to support streamlining of housing projects that utilize our skilled and trained workers by supporting Measure E and can go a step further by opposing Measure D, which would offer similar streamlining without strong worker protections. In San Diego, voters can overturn an ugly, offensive ban on Project Labor Agreements by voting yes on Measure D.
These are just a few examples of local measures that should matter to our members in communities across the state. There are countless others of course, up and down the state, some with the potential to add work opportunities or labor standards for our members, others looking to strip standards away or carve our members out of the conversation. The same can be said of candidates for public office; some will help our plight, others will hurt it. In either case, having a strong Labor voice at the ballot box can make all the difference.
The State Building Trades has consolidated the endorsements we’ve received from our local councils around the state to make it easier for members to know what races impact their jobs as trade unionists. By going to https://cabuildingtrades.org/endorsements/, members can enter their county of residence and get the endorsements from the Building Trades Council in their local community. This is the first step in a bigger plan to connect our members at the street level to the causes and candidates that should matter to them. By 2024, we expect to have a much more sophisticated platform to drive union turnout during what will be another important election.
For now, the most important thing all of us can do is vote. We need every member, and everyone in their household that’s eligible, to do so to make sure their voice is heard in this election. Our voice at the ballot box is our most powerful tool. It’s time for us to flex our muscles and put that voice to work.