Hosted at IBEW Local 124’s hall, the Kansas City AFL-CIO and The Kansas City Building and Trades held the first of what will soon become regular legislative meetings. These meetings are hosted so that your union’s legislative director, lobbyist, political director, or whatever you call the person or people that stay informed and work on political issues can stay on top of the game and maximize the political impact of your union. Issues, candidates, bills or ordinance in both states and all municipalities will be regularly discussed so that union political operatives can stay up to date and be proactive.

Among the things discussed is working to get apprentices and members engaged quickly and early with the political needs of the career. This isn’t just a normal job where you get to ignore politics. You have an obligation to your fellow union members to show up and vote union, just like you have to pay your dues, be a professional, and be safe on worksites. If you don’t, union jobs are at risk including your own. The focus, vote to protect your paycheck, vote union.

One of the most powerful things union members can do is stick together when voting. There is a reason that the unions in Kansas City are regarded as a major political force. It is because the politicians know that if you vote together as a union, you’re one of the most powerful groups in the city. Other groups may have money, but they don’t have the trust and bond of solidarity that comes with being part of the labor movement.

Special interest groups and rich private donors may have money to throw at elections, but they can’t compete against thousands of registered voters all saying together that they care about an issue and they vote. Voting is the only thing that has preserved good paying union jobs in this country and it’s more important than ever that we make sure that every single person in each union is registered to vote and has a plan to vote.

If you are interested in running for office, talk to your union’s political person about getting trained. Unions aren’t just saying that, they want to support members running, they mean it. They want to build a base, from school board on up, of members who are politically active and loyal to their fellow working class union members. School board in particular is a need that can be won and offers an opportunity to make an impact, especially if you have union support behind you.

“This is about exchanging information about candidates and issues that are coming up and that we are working on. We want to find ways to maximize our power. We don’t want to split union support, we need to work together. We have a rich tradition of standing strong together to overcome any obstacle. Look at the recent statewide rejection of right-to-work. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with,” said Duke Dujakovich, President of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO.

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