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MESSAGE FROM SECRETARY-TREASURER
Steven P. Vairma
Steve Vairma's Column:
Endorsements are more important this year
It's the time of year when unions endorse candidates for national and local elections. In the past, labor spokesmen have often announced hyperbolically that a certain upcoming election was the most important ever. Anything to get out the vote.
Unfortunately, those past prognostications may be true for 2020. This year's election could be the most important ever. The country is in a hell of a mess.
The COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the country with death and disease; the unemployment rate is similar to that of the Great Depression. Business closures are causing worker distress People are unhappy and have no idea of what the future holds while the federal government and most statehouses can't seem to meet the challenge, with the fall coronavirus surge sure to come.
So, the election is vitally important this year. Our nation's future success depends on voters making the right choices the general election in November. Perhaps more so than ever before in our lifetimes. Working men and women, union and nonunion, share no responsibility for the dreadful condition of our nation's health-economic, physical or emotional. But through our endorsements, we can certainly provide a roadmap that, if followed, will lead to better wages, hours and working conditions.
The Teamsters' process for endorsing candidates is lengthy and exhausting. It started in late Spring in preparation for the election a few months from now. A similar procedure for endorsing candidates is used by most of organized labor.
The nation's workforce is directly affected by many of the choices made by elected officials and, in the past, many of these decisions have been made following fierce political battles. Labor issues are often characterized by anti-union groups a "special interests," which they definitely are not. The working class, blue and grey collar workers. Makes up of nearly 50 percent of the American workforce, a much larger segment of the population than a special interest.
In the Teamsters Union, presidential endorsements are made by the executive board with input from local unions. They are based in a candidate's body of work, rather than a single issue. A candidate's attitudinal history on labor issues is also considered, among other things.
History has proven that the labor movement is the only hope of the working class in preventing the multinational corporate world, with aid and abetment from the banks, from imposing its will on our workforce.
In state elections, many unions send questionnaires to candidates seeking opinions on labor issues. Others rely on personal interviews, some use both methods.
The process varies throughout the country, depending on the nature of each individual electorate and the financial and staffing of it works best if all unions work together in their political entities, sharing information, presenting a united front against common opponents.
Endorsed candidates often receive some financial assistance and other commitments from labor's political action committees.
The Teamsters Union, however, does not use members' dues money to make political contributions. The IBT's political expenditures are made by the union's DRIVE (Democrat-Republican Independent Voter Education) political action committee, which is funded by voluntary contributions.
An endorsement by the union doesn't buy anyone's vote, nor is it intended to do so. What the IBT seeks are candidates - both Republicans and Democrats - who are committed to improving the standard of living for all workers, union and nonunion, and their families.
In the next edition of the Rocky Mountain Teamster, local unions in Joint Council 3 will have the option of publishing their endorsements. They will endorse candidates whom they believe will serve in the best interest of working men and women. But, as we are painfully aware, there are no guarantees.
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