USW President Gerard said, “Most American workers chose Obama for turning the economy around, passing the Affordable Care Act, rebuilding the auto industry, enforcing our trade laws and adding 5.5 million jobs in the last 32 months.” Gerard adds: “We have more to do, but we’re on the right track with this President.
“Going into this, I wanted to prove three things: The best man would win based on his character, not his skin color; you can’t buy an election, and I wanted to prove that they couldn’t intimidate our people at the polls. And we did it.”
“Our union members fought Super PACs by millionaires and billionaires with boots on the ground, worker-to-worker. It’s an historic triumph for the commitment we made together with other unions and progressive allies to fight back against the corporate influence in elections and the efforts to suppress voting.”
“The USW organized a formidable army of volunteer union activists, retirees and poll watchers, who focused on eight battleground states and engaged in some 63 key congressional contests.” The states were: CO, FL, IA., NH, NC, NV, OH, and WI.
In the past two weeks, the USW amassed 4,100 trained volunteers, plus another 2,900 worksite union members to pass out 2.1 million candidate handbills. Election Day reports filed show 18,315 shifts of USW volunteers and retirees in the battleground states doing block walks and door knocking. During the past two weeks in those states, USW members knocked on 173,800 doors. Another 376,790 direct campaign mailers were sent to USW active and retired members who resided in the battleground states.
State campaigns and ballot issues were setup separately within USW district structures to deal with propositions that threatened the rights of workers to join unions and limiting their rights to engage in the political process.
Among the USW field volunteers in battleground states were Jessica Schiessl, 30, a Local 482 materials handler for a paper mill in Oshkosh, WI. She was door knocking and a poll watcher on Election Day. “The experience has changed my life,” Schiessl said. “I’ve only got a few years work time, but I’m also fighting for the 20-year mill workers who don’t want candidates who have a record of shipping jobs offshore.”
Joe Sterling, 48, of Ohio USW Local 3610 at a maker of rollers for steel mills in Canton, led dozens of union volunteers while on union-paid leave from his job for the past five months to mobilize for candidate rallies, coordinate phone banks, and to distribute handbills at worksites starting at 5:30 am. “What kept me motivated was the threat by those severely conservative candidates who promised to shutdown workers’ rights to a union.”
In Nevada, Local 5282 Vice President John Martinez, 45, took a leave from his chlorine operator’s job at Olin Clor-Alkali Corp., in Henderson, starting after Labor Day. “During the past week I had 25 union volunteers doing block walks and helping with GOTV for early voter participation that included my three sons wearing Steelworkers for Obama-Biden T-shirts.”
A USW Local 710 paper worker Rodney Crow in Colorado, another battleground state, has been working fulltime on leave from his corrugator operator’s job since June to recruit campaign volunteers among USW-represented plants in the Denver area for worksite flyers and neighborhood block walks. “I worked early morning until late night with hope we would re-elect President Obama and deliver votes for at least two Democratic congressional seats,” he said.