Must-Win La. Senate Runoff Saturday
December 3, 2014
When members ask New Orleans Local 130 Business Manager Paul Zulli why he’s working so hard to re-elect Sen. Mary Landrieu, he tells them this: “Whether it’s raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work or fair pay for construction workers, she’s stood by the working people of Louisiana on the issues that matter.”
Landrieu faces Rep. Bill Cassidy in a runoff election Dec. 6. Louisiana has an open primary system, which means multiple candidates from both parties compete against each other on the Nov. 4 ballot. The top two vote getters then face each other in a runoff election if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
Landrieu squeaked by Cassidy in the primary, but faces a tough runoff, as the combined total vote for the Republican candidates is more than 50 percent.
“All Cassidy is doing is attacking Obama,” said Fifth District International Representative Clay Leon. “This is a very red state.”
But Landrieu’s championing of good jobs, fair wages and workers’ rights has won her support in the shipyards and oil rigs across the Gulf Coast.
Leon, a New Orleans native, points to her support for Davis-Bacon, which guarantees a prevailing wage on federally-funded projects, and project labor agreements, including one governing the construction of a new Veterans Affairs medical center in the city.
More than 200 IBEW members are currently at work building the facility.
“Mary backs the center,” Zulli said. “Cassidy voted against it.”
Leon says that Landrieu supported the IBEW and other unions in their long fight to keep the Avondale Shipyards – at one point the largest private sector employer in the state – open.
She’s also one of the most vocal proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline in the Senate, which would mean potentially thousands of refinery jobs for Louisiana workers.
“I never even heard of Cassidy before the Koch brothers starting pumping money for his Senate race,” said the journeyman wireman.
Cassidy has been endorsed by numerous anti-union groups, including Associated Builders and Contractors, which touts his opposition to prevailing wage laws and his support for gutting the National Labor Relations Board.
The congressman has also cast numerous controversial votes, including one for Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2010 budget plan which would have raised the retirement age for Social Security to 70 and privatized Medicare.
IBEW grassroots activists, along with the state labor movement, are sending direct mail, going door-to-door and leafleting workplaces in the run-up to Saturday’s election.
“Mary has stood by our members,” Zulli said. “So we’re going to stand by her.”