The answers given in an AFL-CIO election day survey of 1,020 union members helps answer the question, ‘now what’ – what are the issues that might serve as its programmatic demands as the labor movement gears for the legislative battle of the next two years and sets its sights on Labor 2004.

When asked which one or two issues were the most important in the Nov. 5 election, nearly half (44 percent) put the economy and jobs at the top of their list. Health care and prescription drugs (34 percent) ranked second, with Social Security third (25 percent), closely followed by terrorism and national security (24 percent). Taxes and ‘moral values’ (17 and 14 percent respectively), rounded out the top six major concerns.

In an effort to narrow choices, respondents were asked what ‘goals they had in mind’ when voting for Congress this year. With a combined total of 81 percent, those surveyed said ‘cracking down on corporate corruption and protecting workers’ retirement plans’ was ‘the single most important’ or ‘very important’ goal. More than half said job creation, health care, Social Security, trade and union rights were ‘important’ or ‘very important,’ while only 5 percent said electing candidates who ‘support military action against Iraq’ was ‘the single most important’ goal. (Another 27 percent said it was ‘very important.’) An even smaller number – a combined 17 percent – said ‘electing more Republicans to support the president’ was an important goal.

Other survey findings include:

o 70 percent of those voting in senatorial races supported the Democratic candidate.

o 54 percent of respondents voted for candidates on the basis of issues.

o Only 25 percent of those surveyed said the Republicans had a ‘clear plan for strengthening the economy and creating jobs.’ Fewer than half (40 percent) of respondents said the Democrats had such a plan.

o More than half of those questioned said they had decided on their choice for U.S. Senate ‘more than two months ago,’ while 4 percent said they had decided ‘in the past two or three days.’

o While 40 percent of union members agree ‘strongly’ that unions need to invest time and money in politics and legislation ‘to counter the influence of corporations and wealthy special interests,’ only 12 percent ‘strongly disagree.’

In a related development, Labor 2001, the AFL-CIO campaign to elect worker-friendly candidates to public office saw the federation and its affiliates focusing on 25 governors races, 16 Senate races, 47 House races and taregeted competitive state legislative races durin ghte 2002 election cycle.

The federation assigned 1,750 AFL-CIO and affiliate union staff members and spent $62 million to guarantee union members understood the issues and made their voices heard at the polls. Unions handed out nearly 17 million worksite leaflets, made 5 million phone calls to union members, sent 15 million pieces of mail and put 4,000 political coordinators in the field. On Nov. 5, nearly 225,000 union members volunteered to knock on doors to get out the vote.

The author can be
reached at pww@pww.org

Tags:

Comments

comments