Kentucky Locals All in to Send
|Ky. IBEW activists are mobilizing to help defeat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Nov. 4.|
Incumbent Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s minority leader, has not only led Republicans to oppose federal help to put unemployed workers back on the job and reconstruct some of his state’s dilapidated bridges and roads. He has proposed repealing the Davis-Bacon Act requiring contractors receiving public funds to pay the local prevailing wage.
Because of these and other obstructionist moves, McConnell’s popularity in the state has taken a dive.
But the Kentucky Senate race is not taking place in a normal political climate. Wealthy corporations are pouring unprecedented amounts of cash into McConnell’s and other Senate races in an effort to win back the chamber in November. To win her race, Grimes – who has a strong record of supporting workers and challenging McConnell’s support for right-to-work and other anti-worker legislation – will need to stay competitive, not just in money, but in boots on the ground.
“If working families show up in big numbers to vote, Alison can’t lose,” says Louisville Local 369 Business Manager Charley Essex. With that goal in mind, Essex and other IBEW leaders and activists are teaming up with labor and community allies to widen Grimes’ base of support.
On Aug. 2, members of Louisville Locals 369 and 2100 and Paducah Local 816 joined dozens of other members of the building trades to support Grimes at the legendary yearly picnic held in the town of Fancy Farm in the state’s western sector.
The event began way back in 1880 as a fundraiser in the predominantly Roman Catholic community around St. Jerome Church. In time, the picnic, which set a world record in 1985 for the 15,000 pounds of meat consumed there, came to include virtually every politician running for statewide office and many contending on the national stage. McConnell and Grimes both showed up.
Members enthusiastically came out to Fancy Farm, says Local 816 Business Manager Jimmy Evans, united in the belief, “This is our best chance to get McConnell out of the Senate.“ Mitch McConnell, he says, “has done nothing for the working people of Western Kentucky.” And Grimes has expressed strong support for the state’s coal and energy industry, publically criticizing the Obama administration’s timetable for shutting down coal-fired power plants.
Local 369 is sponsoring phone banks every week until Election Day and registering members and apprentices to vote. “I know how important it is to register new voters,” says Essex. “I was first encouraged to register to vote as an apprentice.”
Winning back the Senate seat for a friend of organized labor, is all about getting “one guy to convince the next guy” and vote,” says Essex who discusses how politics affects members’ jobs at each union meeting.