Winning elections is just one part of our electoral work
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, November 15, 2019
By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation
Another election has come and gone. Our first reaction is to count the tally of wins at the end of the night, which this year were quite impressive. In 2019, running with labor’s endorsement meant you had the strength of working people behind you, ensuring that our candidates were successful in some very competitive races. And although off-year elections may not attract all the usual fanfare, the stakes in many of our local races are still high.
While winning is an important part of elections, we have other goals that measure the real success of our electoral work.
We work hard to build public awareness of labor’s strength and our message. We make sure our electoral activities are branded with working people’s issues, language and images. This year, mail, digital ads and volunteers wore their union colors proudly, from Bloomington to Ramsey.
One of the most important goals for any election campaign is leadership development. Election activities bring great opportunities to build our active volunteer base and give union members the skills to be effective organizers.
Because we showed up TOGETHER in 2019, we saw our endorsed candidates win in city council races and in school board races across all parts of our region.
In 2019, new volunteers and rank-and-file members showed up to candidate doorknocks, talked to their co-workers about the election, and attended campaign events. Especially notable were the union leaders who filled phonebanks in Buffalo for a critical levy and in Coon Rapids for a high-stakes school board race. Those first-time volunteers left empowered and willing to commit to coming back.
Another strategy that is core to our electoral work is making sure that our issues are on the forefront of the winning narrative. This means making sure candidates and volunteers support our issues, can talk about our issues, and that our top issues are included in the most important debates and conversations. Forums in Bloomington led with questions about wages and jobs while voters in Edina embraced the slate of candidates who led with pro-public education messaging.
Elections also are an important time for us to learn about emerging technologies, test best practices and gather feedback from our members and voters directly in the field. Learning and adaptation are important parts of any modern political program.
We tried more digital programming than ever before and members responded to text messages about getting out the vote. Because of our work in 2019, these technologies are going to be even more effective in a big election year like 2020.
Finally, elections are an important time for the broader labor movement to show our solidarity. When our unions show up en masse together in support of a cause, that’s when we are the most effective at being successful in all of these strategies, including winning elections.
Because we showed up TOGETHER, in 2019, we saw candidates win in city council races and in school board races across all parts of our jurisdiction.
Next up: the all-important 2020 elections. Our November 3, 2020 Minnesota ballots will include the race for U.S. President, a U.S. Senate seat, U.S. House seats, and Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House seats.
We’ll be calling on you — to ask you to call on your neighbors, your co-workers, and your fellow union members.
Contact MRLF president Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou at 612-321-5670 or firstname.lastname@example.org.