Union Members Drive Pro-Union Candidates to Victory in Historic Midterms

Categories: The Insider

We did it! 

On Nov. 6, a large number of pro-union candidates won their elections and re-elections, shifting the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress. This couldn’t have happened without union members and allies coming together to elect candidates who believe in workers’ rights, civil rights, and democracy.  

Our union leaders, members, and staff mobilized and turned out in unprecedented numbers to elect those who support federal employees and respect the important work federal employees do on behalf of the American people. We texted and called and knocked on doors of fellow union members to make sure their voices were heard. We canvassed all day – even in the rain – because we knew every vote could make the difference. On Election Day, many of us stood in line for hours to cast our ballots because we knew the impact our votes would have for our country. We hit the polls in droves because American democracy was on the ballot.

Our union is extremely proud of our involvement in getting out the vote for pro-worker candidates in the first midterm election in history that voter turnout exceeded 100 million.  

Here are a few examples of races our members worked hard on and won. It only goes to show that when we fight, we win!

Nevada  

We won the big four races! Jacky Rosen was elected U.S. senator while Susie Lee (Congressional District 3) and Steven Horsford (Congressional District 4) won U.S. House of Representatives seats. Steve Sisolak became Nevada’s first Democratic governor in 20 years.   

“We had huge increases in canvass and phonebank, including three weekends of big delegations of AFGE members coming into Nevada,” said AFGE Legislative Political Organizer Ian Hoffmann.

Oregon  

Our members volunteered multiple shifts on phone and text banks with the Oregon AFL-CIO for Kate Brown, who went on to win the governor race. They also canvassed to help elect AFT-Oregon Nurses Association Nurse Practitioner Rachel Prusak, who won an upset in a suburban Portland state house seat against a veteran of the 2010 Tea Party wave who opposes unions and expanding health care.   

“Their efforts also benefited turnout for our endorsed U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader, who were in competitive districts,” said Legislative and Political Organizer Grant Schott. Both Bonamici and Schrader went on to win by a big margin.

Arizona 

Our members were out in full force in Arizona, helping elect the following pro-worker candidates:   

  • Kyrsten Sinema, U.S. Senate
  • Tom O’Halleran, House of Representatives, Congressional District 1  
  • Ann Kirkpatrick, House of Representatives, Congressional District 2 
  • Raul Grijalva, House of Representatives, Congressional District 3 
  • Rueben Gallego, House of Representatives, Congressional District 7  
  • Greg Stanton, House of Representatives, Congressional District 9  

“AFGE members volunteered at record levels in the state of Arizona, working in solidarity with the AFL-CIO to achieve victories for working families. Five out of nine congressional seats were won by union-endorsed candidates as a result of our collective actions,” said Legislative and Political Organizer Ryan Mimms.

Pennsylvania  

Our members canvassed with the AFL-CIO for Mary Gay Scanlon, who won in Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district. Senator Bob Casey and Governor Tom Wolf also won re-election.   

“Across the state of Pennsylvania, many unions committed themselves to do more membership outreach this year based on the Janus case,” said Legislative and Political Organizer Alana Lewis. “As we transitioned to the general election, talking with members about Governor Wolf and Senator Casey, each union made a point to push their members to the polls due to the huge disconnect of 2016.” 

New York, New Hampshire, and Maine  

Our members helped elect Antonio Delgado (congressional district 19) and Anthony Brindisi (congressional district 22). We also canvassed for Nate McMurray in Congressional District 27, who came within an eyelash of winning one of the most right-wing congressional districts in all of New York. 

In New Hampshire, we helped elect Chris Pappas in district 11. In Maine, we canvassed for Jared Golden.  

“AFGE members from Massachusetts Local 948 also drove up to Maine to help with canvassing efforts. Chris Pappas won his race in New Hampshire while Jared Golden remains locked in a tight race with more votes still outstanding,” said Legislative and Political Organizer Gabriel Pedreira.

Georgia 

We helped elect Lucy McBath to Congress in a tight race. But months before that, our members participated in candidate screenings and the Georgia AFL-CIO’s endorsement process. Upon endorsing Lucy McBath in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, our members went to work. In addition to phone banking and knocking on doors, our union hosted the Georgia AFL-CIO’s Labor 2018 event in September where candidate Lucy McBath rallied canvassers and phone bankers.  

“AFGE members are proud of their work in electing Lucy McBath to serve in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District and are eager to work with her to address federal worker’s issues,” said Legislative and Political Organizer Yolanda Pickstock.

What does this mean for federal employees?  

It means we can once again count on Congress to provide checks and balances on the White House after two years of unprecedented attacks on our union and federal employees by this administration and its allies in Congress.  

“No longer will the president and his congressional allies have free reign to politicize the civil service and reduce civil service protections or union rights,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “We expect the 116th Congress to respect workers’ voices in the workplace, respect the collective bargaining process, and respect the important work federal employees do on behalf of the American people.”  

It also means we have to continue to hold our elected officials accountable. Our union looks forward to working with leaders on both sides of the aisle to protect union rights and federal employees’ pay and retirement. We will work with the bipartisan majority that opposes costly and unaccountable outsourcing of federal government work.  


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