This week, IATSE members from across the United States shared pictures of their “I voted” sticker on social media, using the hashtag #IATSEVotes. The response to the campaign has been overwhelming, with hundreds of members participating on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The #IATSEVotes campaign was part of a larger effort within the IATSE and the labor movement as a whole to increase voter turnout and ensure that workers’ voices are represented at all levels of government.
IATSE members and union volunteers showcased extraordinary organizing and activism, and the result of that activism is easy to see: Labor-friendly candidates won positions across the country, and even where labor-friendly candidates did not emerge victorious, the hard work put in by union members gave labor-friendly candidates a chance in places where they were never previously expected to compete.
Across the country, IATSE members hit the phones for the candidates they support. In Georgia, an internal phone bank was able to call all Local 798 members in the South, to encourage them to vote for union-backed candidates. Locals 126, 127, 205 and 803 called their entire membership lists in Texas, encouraging people to vote. In Florida, both Local 631 in Orlando and Local 115 in Jacksonville hosted phone banks to turn out voters. And a phone bank at Local 80’s hall in Burbank brought out more than 50 volunteers to make calls for LA-area candidates.
On the same day as the Local 80 phone bank, IATSE Young Worker volunteers canvassed for Katie Hill in California’s 25th district. Despite the fact that CA-25 elected pro-corporate Republican Steve Knight to the House of Representatives in 2016, this year labor-endorsed Democrat Katie Hill — who ran on the promise to rebuild the middle class — won the district by a narrow margin.
Some IATSE members went above and beyond, serving as release staff. They took time away from their regular jobs to help organize the AFL-CIO’s 2018 political program in key states. Release staff in Florida planned events and contacted voters on behalf of labor-friendly candidates. In Montana and Texas, where the IATSE was able to provide release staff for the very first time, IATSE volunteers contacted union members to encourage them to support Senator Jon Tester and Beto O’Rourke.
Elsewhere around the country, two notorious union-busting Governors lost their re-election bids in the Midwest. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who suspended the collective bargaining rights for public-sector employees in his state, lost his governorship to Tony Evers, the state superintendent of public education. In Illinois, Democrat JB Pritzker beat out Republican Bruce Rauner, whose record is also hostile to workers. According to In These Times, it is likely that union activism was a deciding factor in both of these elections.
Nevada elected Jacky Rosen to the Senate with a comfortable margin of 5% over her opponent, Dean Heller. IATSE Local 720 members joined the AFL-CIO’s phone banking and canvassing efforts in support of Jacky Rosen’s senate campaign, and Rosen also had massive support from the Culinary Workers Union, which represents nearly 60,000 casino and hotel workers in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
We’d like to thank every IATSE member who volunteered and voted. Now more than ever, the labor movement us to keep up the fight!