Labor Candidates Program

When Union Members Run, Working Families Win!

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE) ensures that the voice of New Jersey’s working families is heard in the political arena. Our labor-to-labor program sponsors worksite voter registration for union members throughout the year. When elections approach we organize “labor walks” in which thousands of union member volunteers walk the state’s election precincts and join with local union affiliates at their workplaces, informing our union sisters and brothers about candidates’ positions on working family issues. And on Election Day we mobilize thousands of volunteers to Get-Out-The-Vote.

No one can represent working families and their unions better than working people themselves. That’s why the New Jersey State AFL-CIO sponsors an ongoing program to recruit, train, mentor, and support union sisters and brothers running for elected office. Through the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates School, union members gain the skills they need to succeed in the political arena. New Jersey voters have elected union members to public office 1,024 times since 1997! These working men and women have a proven track record of placing the interests of working families first.

Now, for the first time in New Jersey history, we elected our union brother Donald Norcross (IBEW 351) to the U.S. House of Representatives. Union members also serve in powerful leadership positions in both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature. Senator Steve Sweeney (Ironworkers 399) is the Senate President, Assemblyman Joe Egan (IBEW 456) is a Deputy Majority Leader and the Chairman of the Labor Committee, Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (IUOE 68) is a Deputy Majority Leader and the Chairman of the Regulated Professions Committee and Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Committee, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (AFTRA) is the Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee, and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (IBEW 269) is the Assembly Deputy Speaker and the Chairman of the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. As a result of labor’s successful program to recruit, train, mentor, and support union members' election campaign efforts, labor’s success in the legislative arena has grown substantially and many statewide pro-worker policies and laws have been implemented including:

  • Anti-outsourcing of state funded service contracts
  • Minimum wage increases
  • Prevailing wage reform bills
  • Workers compensation reform
  • Project Labor Agreements
  • Anti-Sweatshop Executive Order
  • Representation fee in lieu of dues
  • Union members in the State health benefits commission
  • Conscientious Employer Protection (CEPA) reform
  • $8.6 billion school construction program

Since 1997, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates Program enjoys a 76% win rate electing rank-and-file union members to public office for a total of 1,024 election victories so far! Union members are democrats and republicans, that's why we encourage and support union members to run through both major political parties. Currently union members serve New Jersey's working families in the U.S. House of Representatives, in the State Legislature, as County Freeholders and Mayors, on town Councils and Committees, on School Boards, and as fire commissioners. As a direct result of this program.

To learn more about the Labor Candidates Program or to enroll in the Labor Candidates School please contact John Shea, COPE Director at or fax the completed Labor Candidates Survey to (609) 989-8734. Take advantage of the many resources available to support your election campaign! When union members run, working families win!!!