Mourn … and Organize!
Labor Makes Gains at Local and State Level as Anti-Union Tycoon Elected President
In an election that saw a right wing business tycoon wholly unqualified to be President take enough Electoral College votes to win and Democrats fail to gain enough seats in Congress to take control of either house, there were a few bright spots and victories at the local and state level.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris was elected to replace Barbara Boxer in the Senate, and in a passionate victory speech pledged that she intends to fight for the rights of workers to collectively bargain, for women’s rights and health care, and against climate change deniers and opponents of the kind of diversity that makes California strong. She will need support and help in order to succeed in resisting the attacks on unions, the environment, and human rights from the Trump-Pence regime.
“The California labor movement is thrilled with the election of Kamala Harris as our next U.S. Senator,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “As Attorney General, Harris tackled some of the most pressing issues California faces—including going after the big banks in the wake of the housing crisis, protecting workers from rampant wage theft, and criminal justice reform. Working people are fortunate to have her continue to champion our values at a national level, and we’re confident she’s going to be a tremendous Senator who will fight for us each and every day in the U.S. Capitol.”
Voters in San Mateo County overwhelmingly backed Hillary Clinton for president, by a margin of 76 percent to only 19 percent for Donald Trump. While Clinton won California handily and won the popular vote nationwide, she lost in key states where Trump exploited workers’ anger over job losses due to corporate-friendly trade deals and a Democratic administration that has not done enough to create jobs. Clinton failed to make the case to working class voters that she would be better for their economic interests than the pseudo-populist demagogue Trump and his anti-union VP Mike Pence.
In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told union members, “While the outcome of this election was not what we hoped for, the values you fought for during this election campaign have and will continue to shape our nation for the better. We must ensure that our country moves forward on the agenda that you have stood for in this election, that our democracy is protected and that we safeguard the most vulnerable among us.” (See the full statement below.)
Labor Council’s Election Work Gets Results in San Mateo
Volunteers from Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 worked to get out the vote for David Canepa for County Supervisor at the Labor Council’s phone bank October 18 at IBEW Local 617.
The efforts of San Mateo County Central Labor Council and Building Trades Council union members to get out the vote paid off with positive results in many local races November 8.
David Canepa was elected County Supervisor in District 5 with 64 percent of the vote. The Labor Council targeted its resources in Daly City, where Canepa serves as Vice Mayor, and for Canepa and City Council candidates Juslyn Manalo and Glenn Sylvester, who were both elected. “Our efforts really made the difference in those races in northern San Mateo County,” said SMCLC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Julie Lind Rupp. “Labor union members came out in force to advocate for our endorsed candidates and measures and worked tirelessly to be the margin of victory in North County.”
Supervisor-elect Canepa said, “Through the Primary and General Elections both the San Mateo Labor Council and the San Mateo Building Trades Council stood by me. I want to thank the leadership of all the affiliates, and specifically, Julie Lind Rupp, James Ruigomez, and Melinda Dart. Additionally, because of the hundreds of volunteers who made phone calls and walked precincts, our campaign was successful. Without their help our win may have not been possible. For this I sincerely thank all the affiliates.”
Lind Rupp reported that 286 individual volunteers worked 431 shifts to get out the vote for labor-friendly candidates. The volunteers from 38 different unions worked 1,557 hours—making 17,957 phone calls and visiting 4,846 union households.
Volunteers from the American Federation of Teachers, Sheet Metal Workers, Flight Attendants and Service Employees International Union worked to get out the vote for David Canepa for County Supervisor, Juslyn Manalo and Glenn Sylvester for City Council in Daly City, and for Measure T in the Jefferson Elementary School District at the Labor Council phone bank September 29.
Other important wins for Labor include:
• The Daly City City Council now has three pro-labor members with the election of Juslyn Manalo and Glenn Sylvester.
• Voters in the Jefferson Elementary School District passed Measure T, approving an annual $68 per parcel tax to raise funds for Jefferson Elementary School District public schools. Labor Council President Melinda Dart, a public school teacher and president of AFT Local 3267, said Measure T is the first parcel tax for elementary schools passed in the district. “It helps bolster funding for schools, along with Prop 55,” she said. “The support for public education in our district and the state is a bright spot in this election.”
• Labor-endorsed incumbents also retained positions on City Councils in East Palo Alto, where Larry James Moody, Carlos Romero, and Lisa Yarbrough-Gauthier were re-elected, and Menlo Park, where Catherine Carlton and Ray Mueller both won. Two pro-teacher, pro-student high school board members, Andy Lie and Kalimah Salahuddin, were re-elected to the Jefferson High School District School Board. Sequoia Healthcare District Board members Kim Griffin and Katie Kane also won with Labor’s support.
• All four School District Measures passed by wide margins. Bond measures in the Bayshore Elementary School District and Burlingame School District will raise funds for school site improvements. Parcel tax measures in the Jefferson Elementary School District and Redwood City School District will help fund education programs.
In other races, results were mixed. In Half Moon Bay, Labor-endorsed candidate Carol Joyce lost her bid for City Council, with Adam Eisen and Harvey Rarback winning the two council seats. In Pacifica, Labor endorsed incumbent Mary Ann Nihart and Sue Vaterlaus for City Council. As Labor went to press, Vaterlaus had the most votes, with Diedre Martin ahead of Nihart for the other council seat.
Voters rejected the parcel tax for police and fire services in Daly City; both of the rent stabilization measures, in Burlingame and San Mateo, lost by wide margins, while voters in East Palo Alto voted to strengthen the city’s rent stabilization ordinance.
Labor-friendly incumbents Kevin Mullin and Phil Ting were re-elected to the State Assembly and Jerry Hill was re-elected State Senator. Labor was neutral in the contest for the 11th District State Senate, where San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener won, and made a dual endorsement in the 24th Assembly District, where Marc Berman was elected.
San Mateo county voters also voted with the Labor Council and Building Trades on important statewide ballot measures. Proposition 51, the California Public Education Facilities Bond, passed statewide with 54 percent of the vote; it received 59 percent in San Mateo county. The $9 billion bond will be a significant step forward to address the state’s school construction needs. Prop 53, which would have undermined local control of how infrastructure projects are funded and developed by requiring a statewide vote for some local infrastructure projects, lost statewide by a 51 to 49 percent margin. It lost by a 58 to 42 percent margin in San Mateo county. The State Building Trades Council campaigned strongly against the measure, with a successful media campaign featuring firefighters, nurses, and Gov. Jerry Brown. Prop 55 also passed by a wide margin in the county and statewide, and will maintain a tax on upper income Californians to help fund public education and prevent cuts to jobs and programs.
- Paul Burton
“The Work of the Labor Movement Continues with Fresh Urgency”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement November 9 on the results of the 2016 presidential election:
Donald Trump has been elected president. America is a democratic nation, and the voters have spoken.
The AFL-CIO accepts the outcome of this election and offers our congratulations to President-elect Trump.
More than anything, this election is an indictment of politics as usual.
For too long, the political elites have embraced economic policies that hold down wages, increase inequality, diminish opportunity and ship American jobs overseas. Voters in both the primary and general election have delivered a clear message: enough.
The President-elect made promises in this campaign—on trade, on restoring manufacturing, on reviving our communities. We will work to make many of those promises a reality. If he is willing to work with us, consistent with our values, we are ready to work with him.
But make no mistake, we can never back down from our values. The presence of racism, misogyny and anti-immigrant appeals caused damage in this campaign and we must all try to repair it with inclusion, decency and honesty.
As we move forward, the labor movement is committed to defending our American democracy. Ultimately, the fundamental duty of America’s President, symbolized by swearing to uphold our Constitution, is to protect and preserve our democracy and the institutions that make it real. We hope to work with President-elect Trump to help him carry out this solemn responsibility.
Regardless, America’s labor movement will protect our democracy and safeguard the most vulnerable among us.
This election is a statement about our broken economic and political rules. Therefore, the work of the labor movement continues with fresh urgency. The change voters cried out for in this campaign can be found by standing together in unions. The election is over. But we are more committed than ever to helping working people win a voice on the job and in our democracy.
We will never stop striving to represent everyone, fighting for basic human dignity, expanding our diversity and growing our ranks to give working people a strong, united voice.