By International President Mike Futhey
What do the Nov. 2 congressional election results mean for UTU members and their families?
Consider these facts that are not always obvious:
- While it is true that organized labor has more friends among Democrats, many of the Republicans elected Nov. 2 are friends of working families, and they received UTU PAC support and were on our voting recommendations list.
- The UTU is a bipartisan union, historically and consistently looking beyond party labels to reward each and every friend of working families.
- Among our Republican friends, for example, are Rep. Don Young of Alaska, and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Republican Sen. Hatch is one of the strongest congressional defenders of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), while Republican Rep. Young has been one of the UTU’s most ardent supporters in the House of Representatives.
- One of the most important congressional committees to UTU members — airline, bus and rail — is the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, where most legislation affecting the transportation industries originates. Among Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members, more than 66 percent — Democrats and Republicans — who were endorsed by the UTU won re-election Nov. 2.
- In all congressional races Nov. 2, more than 60 percent of UTU endorsed candidates won election or re-election. Imagine if you could win a poker hand more than 60 percent of the time, or hit safely six of 10 times at bat as a major league ballplayer.
- Despite the change in party control in the House of Representatives, UTU recommended candidates are still a majority, meaning the UTU National Legislative Office can continue to work successfully on issues that matter to our members — job security, safety, health care and retirement benefits, as well as adequate public funding for Amtrak and public transit.
- Key regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, National Mediation Board, and National Labor Relations Board, will continue to have labor-friendly majority control.
- The UTU’s GOTV — “get out the vote” — effort this election year resulted in thousands of UTU members and families, who were not previously registered or hadn’t voted in the previous (2006) non-presidential election, registering to vote and casting ballots in congressional races.
- In states where early voting is permitted, preliminary polling by GOTV shows that as many as 20 percent of UTU members and spouses who cast an early ballot had not voted in the 2006 non-presidential election. This proved important in close races.
- On behalf of the UTU, GOTV — in partnership with UTU state legislative directors and the UTU Auxiliary — made more than 210,000 unique member contacts in 28 states via the postal service, e-mail and telephone calls, urging UTU members and their families to register to vote and to vote in this election.
- By encouraging a higher percentage of UTU members to register to vote and to vote, we demonstrate to candidates the power of UTU endorsements — and, especially, that in close races, a UTU endorsement has great value to a candidate.
- Candidates remember their friends in the same manner organized labor remembers its friends.
- As the proverb says, “It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes a difference.” What the UTU PAC and GOTV demonstrate to candidates of all political stripes is that the UTU is a friend worth having.
- The UTU has always had a great legislative program, but what we have accomplished this election through GOTV sets a new standard and benchmark to measure future advances.
- When the new Congress is seated in 2011, we will be working closely with our old and new friends to continue advancing the UTU legislative agenda on behalf of our members.