At the heart of all union work is the ability to organize, bargain, and act collectively to improve the lives of workers and their families. Nothing is more essential to making this work possible than a political climate that is in solidarity with unions and workers and, as such, the UWUA continues to seek out and support a range of elected officials and candidates for office who are sympathetic to, and stand in solidarity with, organized labor.
Some recent examples in the current election cycle include, at the federal level, staunch UWUA partners such as Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, but also a new ally, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono. As a champion of organized labor, Sen. Hirono is invested in energy policy, veterans’ training programs such as the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP), investment in infrastructure, and a recognition that the UWUA is seeking to organize members in the Aloha State’s utility sector.
In the House of Representatives, the UWUA has cultivated a list of strong allies including Gretchen Driskell (MI-7), Elissa Slotkin (MI-8), Andy Levin (MI-9), Tim Greimel (MI-11), Mark MacKenzie (NH-1), Rich Lazer (PA-5), and Conor Lamb (PA-18). All of these candidates share a number of common elements, winning the support of the UWUA — unflagging support for organized labor, a recognition of the complexity of the issues our members face, including a changing energy economy and the need for investment in critical infrastructure systems, and a connection to UWUA members who live and work in their home districts.
At the state level, an important, though easy to overlook win occurred with former Ohio Congressman Zack Space sewing up the Democratic nomination for Ohio state auditor. Should he be successful in the general election this November, Zack will be in position to shape the state’s debate over gerrymandered Congressional Districts, bringing fairness back to an election system that has become badly skewed in favor of one side. With neighboring Pennsylvania having recently re-shaped its political map to bring balance back to the process, Ohio is next on the list of states in need of reform and the dull-sounding, but critically important, role of state auditor will be key to making that happen.
On the local scene, the UWUA has been instrumental in changing the make-up of the city council in Roswell, NM where UWUA Local 51 made itself into a political force to be reckoned with in the city and state as it fights for fair treatment for local members. This work exemplifies grassroots politics at its finest with union members and leaders working directly, and personally, to create a political atmosphere in their community that will allow them and their families to enjoy the benefits of collective action through their union for years to come.