We already know that our Labor Candidates School is a point of great pride for our movement here in New Jersey. One of the most satisfying parts of our jobs is watching brothers and sisters win election to leadership positions that will ensure labor is at the forefront of positive change for our state and communities.
Earlier this week, a post on WashingtonPost.com (“Congress Doesn’t Have to be a Millionaire’s Club,” http://wapo.st/19ZWOKw) highlighted the success of the Labor Candidates School and linked it to efforts to bring more middle-class voices to the political system. The author, Duke University professor Nicholas Carnes, was clear in showing the value of our efforts and how they’re changing the national picture:
“In the mid-1990s, the New Jersey AFL-CIO was facing an uphill battle. Business interests had started pumping huge sums of money into increasingly sophisticated lobbying organizations. Local unions couldn’t keep up with the rising tide of corporate political spending in the Garden State.
“So the New Jersey AFL-CIO decided to try a different approach. What if instead of simply trying to make the voices of workers louder in state politics, the union also started trying to make workers the ones doing the listening? … In 1997, the New Jersey Labor Candidates School opened its doors.
“…[T]he New Jersey Labor Candidate School has helped identify, recruit, and train hundreds of working-class citizens. The program’s graduates have a 75 percent win rate and have won almost 800 elections for offices ranging from school boards to the state legislature. Similar labor candidate schools are now in the works in California, Connecticut, Maine, Nevada, New York and Oregon.”
We all can take pride in the recognition of the successes of our Labor Candidates School and the hundreds of brothers and sisters we have seen elected to office at all levels of government.
The coming years are going to be crucial to our movement and to working families all across New Jersey, and ensuring that labor has not only a seat at the political table, but seats on both sides of it, will ensure our ultimate success.