October 2015

The Importance of Voting

Many of our members participate in all forms of voting, from union elections to federal elections. Sadly, many do not. Many believe “my vote will not matter.”

The facts show our union’s highest turnouts are typically in federal elections in both the United States and Canada. Drop down to midterm elections and for some reason we do not turn out as many members, resulting in less people deciding the outcome of the election. Then, we are all stuck with the results. Why is it that our members seem to care more about the president of the United States or the prime minister of Canada, yet their lives are affected greater by those elected in municipal, state/provincial and gubernatorial races. I want to drill down even further and ask why our members don’t show up for municipal elections. Look at your tax bill and see how much library, school and municipal taxes you pay. If you vote, you decide who sets the priorities that local and state/provincial governments are going to establish. If you look at the potential jobs resulting from all the building projects these entities are responsible for, why wouldn’t you vote. Let’s go one step further and ask why ironworkers are staying home for union elections, contract ratifications and by-laws resolutions.

If you are offended by this article, it is probably because you participate and cannot understand what I am writing about. Look around at your next union meeting and do the math of how few people decide what goes on within the governance of your union. The same principle applies to municipal, state/provincial and federal elections. 

I know ironworkers have diverse and varied beliefs. However, when organized labor endorses candidates it is because the labor leaders responsible have vetted the candidates and their stance on the issues greatly affecting our members. Do the candidates support policies that help put workers back on the agenda?

I simply ask you to participate in the democratic process by doing several things.

Go to union meetings and be active in your local union. No more complaining my vote will not matter. Vote on your contracts, by-laws resolutions and in local union elections. As general secretary, I was shocked at the low turnout in local union elections. I was further shocked at how few members ratify collective bargaining agreements. Do not let others decide for you what goes on at your local—your vote does matter.

Educate yourself and encourage your family, friends, brothers, sisters and fellow tradesmen and women to vote in all elections. You need to remember a candidate typically does not start at the highest elected office. I first sought election as the sergeant-at-arms in my local union and today I am leading our great organization as your general president. Many municipal officials move on to higher office. Electing our future leaders requires us to elect good people at all levels and let their careers progress with continual affirmation and vetting by the electorate. 

We have access to our members voting activity and it could stand improvement. Ironworkers are always well respected in the workplace, so let us ramp up our civic participation and send all others a message “Ironworkers Vote.” 

Eric Dean, 1051885
General President