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Don't despair - organize!

Jeremy Sprinkle
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We must recommit ourselves to the cause of economic justice

The work we do - the men and women of North Carolina's labor movement - to build power for all workers, not just union members, is more important today, after the 2014 midterm election, than ever before because at the end of it all, one truth remains. Organized workers are the only force that can save our democracy and our economy from plutocracy and decline at the hands of organized greed and its bought politicians.

Take our pledge to continue the fight for working families.

Having said that, there's no denying that election night was a big disappointment for North Carolina's working families who wanted to re-elect Kay Hagan to the U.S. Senate and help Democrats keep control of that chamber of Congress as a bulwark against the extremist legislation coming out of the Republican-controlled U.S. House, which included repeated attempts to repeal healthcare reform, shutting down the government, and protecting companies that offshore American jobs at the cost of investing in job creation - even for veterans.

Tuesday was also a disappointment for folks who wanted to deny Speaker Thom Tillis the promotion he wanted and, with it, the chance to take his divide-and-conquer show of bullying - union members, teachers, folks on Medicaid, and the unemployed - to Washington, DC.

At the end of the night, Hagan lost to Tillis by two points - but that's not the whole story about 2014 midterm in North Carolina.

The good news in North Carolina

"North Carolina’s working families can be proud of the effort we put into the campaign we ran for our endorsed candidates," said state AFL-CIO President James Andrews. "Even where we came up short, we laid the foundation for future victories next year, in 2016, and beyond."

By the time polls closed, the Labor 2014 program in North Carolina, the state with the lowest union density in the nation, reached some 81,000 members across more than 2,000 volunteer shifts - surpassing goals for both.

To do this feat, the state AFL-CIO and its affiliates used new technology to target limited resources and to focus efforts on organized labor’s strengths - having conversations by phone and face-to-face with union members in certain households in key areas about the vital importance of turning out to elect and re-elect candidates who will stand with workers to deliver justice to and build an economy that works for everyone - not just wealthy families and corporations.

While the U.S. Senate election was the marquee race, voters decided several down-ballot races just as important to working families, who endorsed candidates for U.S. House, the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, General Assembly, and in local races.

Most candidates running with the union label in North Carolina won their bid for election and reelection. (See the victory list below.)

With justice for workers hanging in the balance, six of seven labor-endorsed candidates for the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals won their races.

While Republicans maintained their super majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, Democrats picked up a total of three seats in the House - a small but important first step toward a long-term goal of winning one chamber by the next round of redistricting.

Two union-backed candidates for the State House defeated Republican incumbents in Asheville-area districts NC 115 and NC 116. Those victories included Democrat Brian Turner, who pulled off an upset victory against two-term Rep. Tim Moffit, an anti-union ALEC-darling and would-be successor to Speaker Tillis. Moffitt's Republican colleague, Rep. Nathan Ramsey, went down in defeat to John Ager, also endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

The third pickup came in Wake County, where voters turned out Rep. Tom Murry, who tried to deceive them on Election Day by passing out apple-shaped handouts at polling places claiming he had the support of the teachers union.

Election Day also saw all four union-backed candidates for Wake County Commission win, flipping control from 5-4 Republican to 7-0 Democratic. That change puts Wake County on a positive track for improvements to education and transit in North Carolina's fastest-growing metro area.

The good news elsewhere

Voters in five states - Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota - and two cities - San Francisco and Oakland, California - approved ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage.

Union members also helped pass ballot measures in other states to give workers paid sick days and equal pay, support strong public schools, repeal bills that took away workers' rights, and reform our broken criminal justice system.

The takeaway

The first takeaway is this.

When it comes to the issues - raising wages and providing economic opportunity for and delivering justice to working families - the results of this election made clear that "voters want an economy that works for them and works for their families," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.


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The second takeaway is perhaps the most important and a reminder of why we have to continue to stand up and stand together. In the words of national AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre:
"No political party will be our salvation. Our salvation comes from our solidarity!" -- Tefere Gebre
Don't give into despair - organize! Pledge yourself to continue the fight for working families!

The victory list

U.S. HouseCD 1: G.K. ButterfieldVictory!
U.S. HouseCD 12: Alma AdamsVictory!
U.S. HouseCD 4: David PriceVictory!
N.C. Supreme CourtCheri BeasleyVictory!
N.C. Supreme CourtMark Martin (chief)Victory!
N.C. Supreme CourtRobin HudsonVictory!
N.C. Supreme CourtSam Ervin IVVictory!
N.C. Court of AppealsLucy InmanVictory!
N.C. Court of AppealsMark DavisVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 13: Jane SmithVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 14: Dan BlueVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 16: Josh SteinVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 20: Floyd McKissickVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 22: Mike WoodardVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 23: Valerie FousheeVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 28: Gladys RobinsonVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 38: Joel FordVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 4: Angela BryantVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 49: Terry Van DuynVictory!
N.C. SenateSD 5: Don DavisVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 106: Carla CunninghamVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 11: Duane HallVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 114: Susan FisherVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 115: John AgerVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 116: Brian TurnerVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 119: Joe Sam QueenVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 24: Jean Farmer-ButterfieldVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 27: Michael WrayVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 29: Larry HallVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 30: Paul LuebkeVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 31: Mickey MichauxVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 32: Nathan BaskervilleVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 33: Rosa GillVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 34: Grier MartinVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 38: Yvonne Lewis-HollyVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 39: Darren JacksonVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 43: Elmer FloydVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 44: Rick GlazierVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 48: Garland PierceVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 50: Graig MeyerVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 54: Robert ReivesVictory!
N.C. HouseHD 71: Evelyn TerryVictory!
Buncombe Co. Comm.D1: Brownie NewmanVictory!
Buncombe Co. Comm.D2: Ellen FrostVictory!
Buncombe Co. District AttorneyTodd WilliamsVictory!
Buncombe Co. SheriffVan DuncanVictory!
Cumberland Co. Board of Ed.At-Large: Rudy TatumVictory!
Cumberland Co. Comm.At-Large: Charles EvansVictory!
Cumberland Co. Comm.At-Large: Larry LancasterVictory!
Cumberland Co. Comm.D1: Jeanette CouncilVictory!
Guilford Co. Board of Ed.At-Large: Nancy RouthVictory!
Guilford Co. Board of Ed.D4: Alan DuncanVictory!
Guilford Co. Clerk of CourtLisa Johnson-TonkinsVictory!
Guilford Co. Comm.At-Large: Kay CashionVictory!
Guilford Co. Comm.D7: Carolyn ColemanVictory!
Mecklenburg Co. Comm.At-Large: Pat CothamVictory!
Mecklenburg Co. Comm.At-Large: Trevor FullerVictory!
Mecklenburg Co. Comm.D2: Vilma LeakeVictory!
New Hanover Co. Comm.Rob ZappleVictory!
New Hanover Co. District Court5th: Melinda H. CrouchVictory!