On May 15th, voters in Oregon will cast their ballots in the state’s primary election. Because it’s an election year, that means one thing: candidates for elected offices across this state are reaching out to ATU Local 757 to ask for our endorsement.
In the past, we’ve done what a lot of unions do: endorsed dozens of candidates for office, contributed to their campaigns, and canvassed to get folks elected. Unfortunately, in most cases, those politicians then go on to do nothing, or less than nothing, for transit workers. Over the last couple of years, we’ve heard one thing loud and clear: our members are tired of watching this Union write blank checks to politicians who fail to stand up for workers.
In that spirit, we’ve recently changed our process for endorsing political candidates, in order to give our members a greater say in who their Union endorses for office, and to make sure that we fully understand where a candidate stands on our issues. Here’s what that process looks like:
- When a candidate reaches out to Local 757 to request an endorsement, we send that candidate a member-written questionnaire. This includes questions about the candidate’s priorities and their positions on our issues
- Once the candidate completes the questionnaire, we schedule a meeting between the candidate and our members. For local races – like the Oregon House and Senate, local county commissions, or local city councils – we ask the candidate to meet with members in the area they’re trying to represent. After all, it doesn’t make much sense for a candidate for office in Lane County to meet with members in Bend or Portland. For high-profile statewide races, like Labor Commissioner or Governor, we ask the candidate to meet with our Executive Board or members at our monthly Charter meetings. And if a candidate is running for office in a place where we do not have any members, we politely decline to endorse anyone in that race.
- If – and only if – the members who meet with that candidate are comfortable proposing an endorsement, we then ask the Executive Board to review the candidate. If the Executive Board moves to endorse a candidate, we then ask members at Charter and Continuation meetings to ratify that endorsement.
- If members agree, then the candidate receives our endorsement. Then, and ONLY then, is a candidate eligible to ask for a financial contribution to their campaign.
- If and when a candidate requests a contribution to their campaign, we go through the same process of asking the Executive Board and membership to vote on that contribution.
This new process is rigorous and thorough, and gives our rank-and-file members the opportunity to decide who – if anyone – we endorse in a given election. This year is the first opportunity we’ve had to try this process out, and five candidates have made the cut. ATU Local 757 fully endorses and urges our members to vote for the following candidates for office on May 15th:
Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI), nonpartisan
Oregon State Senate District 8 (Eugene and Lane County), Democratic Party primary
Metro Council President, nonpartisan
Lane County Commission District 5 (East Lane County), nonpartisan
Portland City Council Position 3 (citywide), nonpartisan
Jo Ann Hardesty
Portland City Council Position 2 (citywide), nonpartisan
No endorsement – both candidates Nick Fish and Julia DeGraw are strong on transportation issues, and we believe either would be an asset on the Portland City Council