Election Day came in like a lion this Tuesday, and for those who support pro-worker candidates, it left like one too.
The victory column filled up with candidates backed by the Teamsters. In Wisconsin and Illinois, for example, Tony Evers and J.B. Pritzker defeated two mortal enemies to the labor movement – Govs. Scott Walker and Bruce Rauner. Combine that with big victories by numerous female candidates such as Gretchen Whitmer running for governor in Michigan; Jacky Rosen running for U.S. Senate in Nevada; and Minnesota’s two U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and it was a very good day.
“From coast-to-coast, a historic number of hardworking Americans showed up and had their voices heard at the polls,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. “And taken together, they made it clear that the status quo that has favored the powerful in government is no longer acceptable.”
Of course, there was still plenty of more winning to be had. Democrats will now hold the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, assuring that unions will get a check on any legislation that tries to tamp down on workers’ rights.
Not only did Teamster-backed candidates prevail at the top of the ticket, but it trickled down to the statehouse level as well. Democrats flipped the Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, New Hampshire House, New Hampshire Senate and New York Senate yesterday and now have full control of government in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico and New York because of it.
Teamsters, however, also delivered. At least four will be heading to their state Capitols in the coming months. Former Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 391 President Jeff Kurtz, for instance, won his Iowa District 83 seat, and pledges to stand up against the state’s decision to curb collective bargaining in the state. “We stagnating raises, it makes no sense to curtail the bargaining power of unions,” he said.
In Nevada, Susan Martinez, a 30-year employee at the Flamingo Hotel and a shop steward for Local 986, won the House District 12 seat by a comfortable 11 percent margin. Her top priorities during the campaign were improving the educational system and repealing the state’s right-to-work law. “I want to encourage people and businesses here to have respect for labor unions and their contracts,” she said.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, two Teamsters prevailed in their statehouse races. Dave Delloso, principal officer of Local 312 in Chester, won the District 162 seat by four percentage points, while Steve Malagari, a Local 830 member who is employed at Gretz Beer and is a member of the Lansdale Borough Council, won his District 53 seat by three percentage points.
“I want to go to Harrisburg and represent a class of people that are tired of being forsaken,” Delloso said. Malagari said, “I am opposed to right-to-work legislation in Pennsylvania.”
They weren’t the only Teamster victors, however. At least five other union members won local races, including Luis Arroyo Jr. for Cook County (Ill.) Board of Commissioners; Roger Parsons for at-large commissioner for Swain County, N.C.; Lori Frugoli for Marin County (Calif.) District Attorney; Demnlus Johnson II for Richmond (Calif.) City Council; and Esther Lemus for Windsor (Calif.) Town Council.