Local 714 Involvement
In Judicial Race Proves
A Winner for
Local 714 took an active role in the November election for
Erie County domestic relations judge, bucking the Democratic Party and
disagreeing with the decision of the AFL-CIO. And the UE-endorsed candidate
won — demonstrating the effectiveness of the grassroots political action.
In Erie County, in north-central Ohio, the Domestic Relations
(Family Court) Judge is elected to a six-year term and has authority over a
number of divorce and juvenile justice-related issues, including child
custody, child support, alimony and visitation. For Local 714 members at
G&C Foundry, like many other working people, these are serious issues that
all-too-often hit close to home.
As Craig S. Miros, melt department steward at G&C
Foundry, explains: "It’s not had to find a co-worker who hasn’t gone
through divorce. Since there is only one judge in our county for these issues,
the caseload is very heavy, and it takes a long time for cases to get
resolved. One of our local’s members even had to move out of county to get a
simple dissolution. The stress from these family issues is incalculable."
That was the point made last spring when a candidate for
domestic relations judge spoke at a local meeting, which marked the beginning
of the union’s interest in the election. One UE member was involved in the
campaign of Deborah Wood, a 14-year career family law attorney, and a
member of the Bar Association’s family law committee, who faced three other
candidates in the Democratic primary. Each had less inexperience.
To the surprise of many, one of those candidates won: Mary
Ann Barylski, a 13-year career criminal prosecutor who had no family law
'THEY DON'T OWN OUR VOTE'
Still, Miros says, "Our local might not have gotten
involved at this point had it not been for the actions of the AFL-CIO."
The federation voted to endorse only Democratic Party candidates, regardless
of qualification or proven experience in helping workers, Miros says. One
Democratic candidate went so far as to claim that he enjoyed "the
endorsement of ALL local unions."
As it happened, the Republican nominee for domestic relations
judge, Robert DeLamatre, had a good background in family law, a record
of helping workers in these issues, and served on the Family Law Committee.
And, as it turned out, the race for domestic relations judge was the "hot
button" election in Erie County. "Putting our foot down there not
only would help all families, but would tell the Democratic Party that they
don’t own our vote," Miros says.
At Local 714’s Sept. 30 membership meeting, the local union
voted to endorse DeLamatre based on UE guidelines — qualifications and
experience helping workers.
'REAL EXPERIENCE IS ALL THAT MATTERS'
"In the fall, we were active in literature drops
throughout the county," Miros says. "We became regular fixtures at
the public speaking forums, with a union representative at those forums,
taking notes on what was said, posing worker-related questions whenever
possible. Doing so had a visible effect, shaking the confidence of the
Democratic candidate and her advisors."
On Election Night, Nov. 7, the tally revealed a 53 percent-47
percent victory for DeLamatre.
"When the best interests of workers’ personal lives are
at stake, real experience is all that matters," Miros says. "This
was another example of how grassroots UE political action is effective. In the
future, our local may be getting more involved, maybe even sponsoring a
UE News - 12/00