Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How did the Teamsters fare yesterday?

Elections sure do matter. Some of the Teamsters' staunchest allies in Congress and in state capitals lost yesterday. Some won, and a few new faces will be welcome. But by and large, it was not a happy night for organized labor.

First the good news:

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin won a nail-biter of a race against an anti-union candidate from out of state. Teamsters Vice President Ken Hall called it a big victory for middle-class workers in West Virginia. We were also very pleased that Nick Rahall, a good friend to the Teamsters, won re-election to the House.

Barbara Boxer, who has worked with the Teamsters on so many important issues, won re-election to the Senate from California. Another strong Teamsters ally in California, Jerry Brown, will return to the governor's office 30 years after he first served.

Raul Grijalva a key House leader in the fight to preserve Social Security benefits, won re-election fights in Arizona. Another House leader on Social Security, Gabrielle Giffords, is narrowly ahead of her opponent, also in Arizona.

In Ohio, Pat Tiberi, who co-sponsored a pension-relief bill that is crucial to the Teamsters' and other pension funds, won re-election. So did two strong opponents of job-killing trade agreements, Betty Sutton and Marcy Kaptur (her opponent was the guy who dressed up in a Nazi uniform).

Long-time Teamster ally John Dingell won re-election in Michigan to his 28th or 29th House term, depending on who's reporting (but who's counting?).

Joe Courtney, who strongly opposed plans to tax health care plans, easily won re-election to the House in Connecticut.

Jim McDermott won re-election to his House seat in Washington. He sponsored an important bill that cracks down on companies that misclassify workers.

Andrew Cuomo, who has supported the Teamsters on misclassification, easily won election as governor of New York.

And now the bad news.

This is really bad: Rep. Jim Oberstar lost after serving 18 terms in the House from Northern Minnesota. As chairman of the House Transportation Committee, he has been an invaluable supporter of the Express Carrier Employee Protection Act and a strong advocate for aviation safety. His replacement as committee chair, John Mica of Florida, is no friend to labor.

Jack Conway, Kentucky's attorney general who worked with us to stop FedEx from misclassifying its drivers, lost to Rand Paul for the senate.

Robin Carnahan, who the Teamsters strongly supported in Missouri, lost her campaign for Senate to Roy Blunt.

There was plenty of bad news from Ohio, where Lee Fisher lost his Senate bid to a former U.S. Trade Representative, Rob Portman, and Gov. Ted Strickland lost his race for re-election to Wall Street banker John Kasich.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who co-sponsored the pension-relief bill with Pat Tiberi, lost his race in South Dakota.

Phil Hare, a former shop steward from Rockford, Illinois, lost his bid for re-election.

Former UPS driver and Teamster Gary McDowell lost his bid for former Rep. Bart Stupak's seat in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

We're also still waiting to find out what happens in Washington State, where Teamster ally Sen. Patty Murray holds a tiny lead over challenger Dino Rossi.

This is by no means an exhaustive list; the Teamsters supported many more candidates. But it'll have to do for now.