20th Annual Labor Candidates School Marks Milestone with Class of 22 Union Members Seeking Public Office


The New Jersey State AFL-CIO conducted an experiment in 1997 called the Labor Candidates School that sought to train union members on the ins and outs of campaigning for public office. The results that were achieved over the next 19 years were far beyond anyone’s expectations.

CLICK HERE to see photos from the 20th Annual Labor Candidates School.

Hundreds of union members have taken part in the two-day weekend training program and have gone on to achieve a total of 874 election victories to local, state, and federal offices. More than 140 graduates of the school currently hold public office; they serve on town councils, fire commissions, and boards of education; as mayors and freeholders; and hold leadership positions in both the New Jersey State Legislature and United States Congress.

The 2016 graduating class of 22 labor candidates is now prepared to lead this program into its 20th successful year. Equipped with a knowledge of campaign essentials from fundraising to volunteer recruitment, New Jersey State AFL-CIO labor candidates have a strategic advantage that no other training program can match. Other topics covered include campaign planning, campaign research, public speaking, targeting, voter contact, get-out-the-vote, resource management, message development, media relations, and digital strategies. Beyond the classroom, labor candidates receive ongoing resources and support to bolster their campaign efforts.


What makes the Labor Candidates School so special is its effectiveness. No other candidate training school has achieved the scale or success rate as this program. Dozens of labor candidates appear on ballots around the state each year with an unmatched 74% win-ratio.

However, the true value of the labor candidates program is derived from the progressive policy achievements of labor elected officials. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO, in partnership with labor legislators, have championed some of the most pro-worker legislation in the country by strengthening prevailing wage laws and project labor agreements, raising the minimum wage, enacting card check in the public sector, reforming workers compensation, and signing one of the nation’s first paid family leave policies into law.

Union men and women possess a first-hand knowledge of working family issues that few others can match. When it comes to securing policies that invest in our middle class and raise the standard of living for all workers, the value of the labor candidates program cannot be understated.

The 20th Annual New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates School was held at the union-staffed Rutgers University Inn and Conference Center, August 13-14, 2016. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO congratulates this year’s graduates and looks forward to working with 45 first-time and incumbent labor candidates to ensure their success on Election Day, November 8, 2016.

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