The following content comes from Ed Weber, a 42-year retired carpenter, foreman, steward and superintendent from Local 40 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. Weber was recently appointed to the Planning Board for Nashua, New Hampshire, a position he believes is a good fit because of his construction knowledge...
I think being politically involved and talking about that at union meetings helps members better understand how each of us getting involved will help secure union jobs. If we can show how politicians help jobs to go union, then the members get the message.
Just telling them to do it because we want you to doesn't hit home like seeing member activism in action. I also feel that politics starts in your hometown. If my local and state politicians know how I stand on the importance of union workers, and they know me by my face not just something I write to them, I feel that does much more.
For instance, I was on coffee break on a job in Harvard Square years back and a local political candidate came over to us. When I informed her that I was a Democratic delegate, her total attention focused on me, explaining what she wanted to do for the Democratic party and what she would do once in office.
I understood why she was focusing on me - she needed 15% of the delegates’ vote at the convention to get on the ballot.
I asked what her position was on union workers. Her answer just wasn't right and I informed her she needed to get a better understanding of workers in construction. She left, and I believe my co-workers understood the importance of being involved.
As a delegate, I spoke face to face with then Senator John Kerry two different times. He knew and understood my thoughts on labor issues. I also had the chance to speak with local representatives.
When these Reps see the amount of union carpenters who are also delegates, they realize that we want to not only hear what they have to say, but we want them to listen to us so that they know what we expect from them. When they see the numbers of voting carpenters who are interested and involved, they do listen and vote pro-labor.