Union Members Win Big With Path To Power

This story was originally published in the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO News and Views Newsletter. Sign up here to receive your free copy.

Written by Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder

For decades, the political system has failed working people. Acting on behalf of some greedy corporations and the obscenely rich, the political system has been taking away, one after another, the pillars that support working people’s right to good jobs and secure benefits. Our enemies know that unions are the last defense for working people, and so set as their top priority, taking away the freedom of working people to negotiate for a better life.

The time has passed when we can simply settle for the lesser of two evils. We must develop a new generation of elected representatives who share our aspirations for growing the labor movement and meeting the challenges of globalization, privatization, and the emerging 21st century workplace; speaking with an independent political voice, backed by a unified labor movement.

Your State Federation, along with the National AFL-CIO, has been fighting back, to shift the balance of power for working people, through the initiative called PATH TO POWER. PATH TO POWER fights back with Union members as candidates. Working with affiliates to identify, recruit and elect pro-union candidates to local public office helps ensure that the candidates we recruit and endorse, are not just supporters of labor, but champions of organized labor, driving a pro-worker, pro-union agenda.

The focus on getting union members elected into office came out of a resolution at the AFL-CIO’s 2017 convention affirming an “urgent need” to step up such efforts. Efforts that include a strategy to train and prepare qualified candidates to run for office, support these candidates with a robust member-to-member voter mobilization program, help these candidates resource and implement their campaigns, and provide strong policy training where union members are out front shaping the debate about what the economy ought to do for workers.

Coming off November’s general election, Pennsylvania saw 34 of 56 union members who were endorsed by their CLC or State Fed, win their respective contests. Everything from local Auditor like myself, to County and City officials. All elected officials have influence over the lives of working people. They directly oversee the delivery of public services, the education of our children, and the first responders who work to keep us safe. Local governments also enact policies fostering the procurement of American and union-made goods and services, which drive our local economies and produce quality manufacturing jobs.

They also can ensure we properly invest in such vital infrastructure as water and sewer systems, mass transit and highway projects. These policy makers have the ability to enact responsible contractor policies and project labor agreements to ensure they hire the most highly-skilled workers – Union workers. 2020 provides even more opportunities for electing card-carrying union members to public office. What’s stopping you? Interested in learning more, shoot me an email at fsnyder@paaflcio.org. And together with the PA AFL-CIO, we will travel on the Path to Power.