Monday, November 03, 2008

Labor's Vote




Working Californians Pound the Pavement for Change

By Art Pulaski
Executive Secretary-Treasurer
California Labor Federation

This campaign season has drawn high enthusiasm among union activists. In my travels around the state, I found more union volunteers than I’ve seen in years. That level of union member commitment is key, because our research shows that nothing is more persuasive than workers talking to their co-workers about the issues: the economy, health care, retirement security and job security.

This election season, union members are hearing about pro-worker issues and candidates at the worksite, on the phone, in the mail and at their doors. Through our 2.1 million members, we’ve reached nearly four million California voters. We’ve distributed over 150,000 flyers on key legislative races at worksites across the state, and dropped nearly 2 million pieces of mail. 12,500 union volunteers have made hundreds of thousands of phone calls and knocked on thousands of union members’ doors.

We are riding the tsunami of change that Barack Obama is creating at the top of the ticket. Obama is talking about the economic issues that workers care about, and that energy and enthusiasm is boiling over into hot legislative races up and down the state.

Union members have put incredible effort into these competitive races, where we have the chance to replace anti-worker legislators with those who will stand with working families.

In Assembly District 10, new voter registration numbers show Democrats have made significant gains and are almost equal to Republicans. These new numbers help put Alyson Huber within striking distance of pulling off a big upset over Jack Sieglock (R). Unions have launched a massive campaign to educate voters about Sieglock's bad record as a career politician.

Joan Buchanan (D) is leading her opponent, Abram Wilson (R), in Assembly District 15, thanks to union volunteers who made almost 15,000 calls to union households in that district. That’s almost exactly the same as the margin of victory in this district during the last competitive election.

In Assembly District 26, momentum is building for John Eisenhut. This is an extremely tight race, but a big push from the Democratic Party, along with over 26,000 calls and door visits by union volunteers, could push Eisenhut over the top.

Fran Florez scored big in the court of public opinion in Assembly District 30, with key endorsements from the Fresno Bee and the Bakersfield Californian – the two biggest papers in the district. We’ve moved more than 100 union volunteers into AD 30 for the final four days.

In Assembly District 78, retired union member Marty Block has been making major strides in the polls. His popularity among workers was clear last weekend, when nearly 400 union members and supporters came out to walk precincts to support Block.

Manuel Perez has run a strong campaign in Assembly District 80, and has easily withstood ineffective attacks by the opposition.

In Senate District 5, Lois Wolk has a modest lead in the polls, and over 300 union members walked the precinct this weekend to keep support growing for her.

Thanks in large part to union volunteers, tracking polls show a dead heat between Hannah-Beth Jackson (D) and her opponent, Tony Strickland (R) in Senate District 19. A win in this district would leave Democrats only one seat away from a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Our labor council leader dispatched 152 union volunteers from her home on Saturday.

With a record turnout expected and a surge in voter registrations, more seats are coming into play every day, including AD 36 (Lancaster), AD 37 (Simi Valley), CD 3 (Sacramento), CD 45 (Palm Springs), CD 46 (Orange County) and CD 50 (San Diego).

Labor Councils throughout the state have gone above and beyond to get out the worker vote. The L.A. County Federation of Labor has vowed to make 500,000 by the end of the campaign, and they’re on pace to make it happen. In San Joaquin County, we’ve reached our goal of contacting over 5,000 union voters. In San Diego, Alameda, and Orange counties, volunteers have come out in record numbers, and in Sacramento, the phone banks and the precinct walks are packed every day.

Working families understand that we cannot afford more of the same in Sacramento and Washington. We need a new direction, one that promises things like job security, retirement protection and affordable health care. That’s why we are putting our all into this election.

For more election resources or to find a labor-sponsored campaign event in your area, visit www.calaborfed.org/political/

Art Pulaski is Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, which represents 2.1 million members of 1,200 manufacturing, service, construction, and public sector unions. For more information, visit http://www.workingcalifornia.org/

From California Progress Report
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