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Big Business Wins
On Election Day,
Despite UE Members’ Efforts


An expensive and largely uninspiring election on Nov. 5 produced a low voter turnout and a big-business victory — not that energetic UE members didn’t work for an opposite result.

The United States Senate and House of Representatives are both under Republican control. Three hundred and eighty-three of 387 incumbent House members were re-elected, and 23 of 27 incumbent Senators were returned to office. Republicans made gains largely in races where there was no incumbent.

"The election results prove that the Democrats are incapable of confronting and challenging the growth of corporate power," says UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bruce Klipple.

Following through on the decision of the 67th UE Convention to make the November elections a priority, a number of local unions made an effort to make sure members were registered to vote. Most locals copied and distributed a UE-produced "get out the vote" leaflet.

Around the union, many UE members took part in local, state and national contests.

In the Allentown-Bethlehem region in eastern Pennsylvania, members of Locals 111 and 112 called their co-workers’ and neighbors’ attention to the challenge posed by union official and former steelworker Edward O’Brien (D.) to the incumbent Member of Congress, Pat Toomey (R.), a former investment banker and restaurant owner.

District Two endorsed Dr. Jill Stein, a physician and environmental health consultant, who ran for Governor of Massachusetts on the Green Party ticket. Massachusetts union members distributed a leaflet highlighting the real issues in the gubernatorial election.


Vermont UE members contributed to the re-election of their state’s fighting, independent Member-at-Large — Bernie Sanders. UE Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend was the keynote speaker at Sanders’ labor fundraising dinner.

Vermonters also campaigned for Anthony Pollina, Progressive candidate for Lieutenant Governor. The UE action probably paved the way for the state AFL-CIO to endorse Pollina in September, says District Two Sec.-Treas. Jonathan Kissam. "I think this is the first statewide race anywhere in the country in which a state AFL-CIO endorsed a progressive third-party candidate." Pollina’s bid was unsuccessful.

District Six endorsed the Greens’ gubernatorial choice Mike Morrill and Green Congressional candidate AnnDrea Benson. At a joint press conference with Morrill, District Six Pres. John Lambiase explained how the 15 UE locals in western Pennsylvania are committed to breaking out of the two-party system.


In northwestern Pennsylvania, UE Locals 506 and 618 took a particular interest in Benson, who represented the only opposition to incumbent Republican Phil English. Further, says Local 506 Business Agent Pat Rafferty, Benson "took her campaign platform right out of the UE policy book." The locals hosted a Benson event at the Local 506 Hall.

During the campaign, Benson and the joint 506-618 Legislative Action Committee fought successfully against unconstitutional laws that would have denied LAC Chairperson Donna Cramer the right to display Benson signs on the lawn of her Harborcreek home. Benson succeeded in garnering more than 20 percent in the race, what may be a new highpoint for Green congressional candidates. This result was due in no small part to the efforts of Cramer and the union LAC. Morrill received his largest percentage in Erie County.

John Thompson, with Cramer District Six political action co-chair, says the endorsement of the Green candidates was a beginning. Rafferty says, "Now that we’ve licked our wounds, the Erie locals are resolved to come back even stronger. We’ve met with our candidates and are looking towards future elections with renewed vigor." The Local 506 business agent adds, "When you have candidates like AnnDrea step up for the cause of workers, you can only be optimistic about the future."


Local 893, Iowa United Professionals, backed incumbents Tom Vilsack and Tom Harkin, who won re-election as governor and U.S. Senator, respectively. Local 893 members also worked hard on the campaigns of 17 state legislative candidates endorsed by the statewide union; seven were successful in their bids.

Minnesota UE members, and delegates to the District 11 Council, enthusiastically aided the re-election efforts of Sen. Paul Wellstone, who was tragically killed in an airplane crash a week before the election (see Page 15).

"The near-complete failure of the Democratic Party to campaign on the basic economic issues facing ordinary working people, and the resulting low level of voter turnout in many areas provided the Republican formula for victory," comments UE’s Townsend.


"Numerous battles for working people now loom," Townsend says: "Big business will be pushing for more tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and the push to repeal overtime pay and paid time-off under the cover of ‘comp-time’ and ‘flex-time has now been moved to front burner."

Sec.-Treas. Klipple points out, "With big business Republicans now in charge of the White House, the House and the Senate, we as working people must close ranks in order to defend ourselves."

A pro-worker alternative like the Labor Party is needed to confront the problems plaguing working people, Klipple says — "the problems that the Republicans make worse, and that growing numbers of Democrats ignore."

UE News - 12/02

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