By Catherine Conlan
Two stories on the front page of this issue remind us that elections matter. Who wins, who loses, how they win or lose and the policies the winners support elect us all in one way or another, and getting the right people in the right positions can make the rest of our work — on the jobsite, in our offices, in our neighborhoods and wider communities — easier, or harder.
First, the Duluth municipal elections: Some frustrations, some triumphs, and a reminder that now is the time to start talking about how to prepare for the races we’ll be facing in 2020. DFL precinct caucuses are three months away, and those are a great opportunity for union members and their allies to show up and talk with their neighbors about issues that are important to them.
While Minnesota has switched to a primary system to determine presidential preference, the precinct caucuses will still be used to pick delegates for organizing units and district conventions. Serving as a delegate ensures that your voice is heard directly as the party determines the candidates and issues it will pursue in the coming cycle. It’s easy, it doesn’t take a lot of time and with three months’ notice, you have an opportunity to work on your friends and union siblings to attend their own caucuses as well.
It’s important to get the vote out, of course — North East Area Labor Council Field Coordinator Katie Humphrey makes the point in the article that low turnout was a challenge, and higher turnout generally benefits Democrats, no matter the election.
But voting is the last step in participating in the political process. The candidates you’ll see on the ballot next fall and in future elections will have their roots in the precinct caucuses scheduled for February. Get involved in the process, whether as a delegate to the Central Labor Body or your party, and have a say!
The article about the EPI report examining the work of Trump’s NLRB shows what can happen when candidates unfriendly to Labor are elected on a national scale. I’ve written a couple of times about how Scabby the Rat has come under fire from the NLRB general counsel, but the moves the EPI report uncovers are a lot less whimsical than an inflatable balloon used to shame bad employers.
Some of the rules the NLRB has changed or is examining include regulations around unions communicating with workers (the NLRB wants to reduce it), letting bosses determine who can organize, making it easier to decertify unions and increasing arbitration for grievances.
More worrisome, the NLRB has moved to enshrine changes like these in federal law, rather than as rules that are interpreted or provide guidance around organizing, communicating and upholding workers’ rights.
These changes are a direct result of Trump’s election and his anti-worker agenda, even as he continues to paint himself as a friend of workers who’s always looking out for the little guy.
Labor wasn’t fooled in 2016, and Trump’s record (if he is the candidate in 2020) will provide a stark contrast no matter who the Democratic candidate is. The GOP agenda is not friendly to workers, full stop.
Some housekeeping: Please note that the Thanksgiving weekend will change our next publication date to Tuesday, November 26, and delivery may be delayed over the holiday. After that, there’s only one issue left in the year, and then on to 2020!
Elections past and future
By Catherine Conlan