On Election Day, Virginia's Blues Ain't Bad

Don’t let nobody tell you different. Members of USW Local 8888 played a major role in turning Virginia blue for Democrats on Election Day. For the first time in a generation, Virginia Democrats now control both chambers of the state legislature in Richmond. That means the new Democratic majority can make real, meaningful change for workers in Newport News and across the state.

For example, one change in Virginia’s workers compensation law could keep injured workers from going broke while waiting for their cases to be settled. The same thing is true for other worker-friendly changes that a new Democratic majority can make, including raising the state’s minimum wage and abolishing right-to-work laws, propelling Virginia unions and workers to thrive.

But the election night power shift did not pop out of thin air or because of slick, repetitive political ads. Hard work over many months and countless missed meals and sleep by volunteers from unions like the Steelworkers helped Virginia turn blue and pro-worker.

Local 8888 members helped make 1,000 calls to union households and hit nearly 3,000 homes with flyers, urging residents to vote. In addition to canvassing and phone banking, Local 8888 conducted successful voter registration drives in the spring and fall at shipyard gates, increasing the union’s political clout at the polls. Several winning candidates endorsed by Local 8888 campaigned at the shipyard gates to ask for union votes. Local 8888 poll watchers blanketed several voting sites in Newport News and Hampton, passing out sample ballots and flyers for candidates endorsed by the union.

Overall, 13 of the 23 candidates endorsed by the Steelworkers in Virginia were victorious. Local 8888 President Charles Spivey praised the work of his members. “I could not be prouder of our folks who stepped up and showed up.”  He called the success of union-endorsed candidates “a game-changer.” “Having more legislators who will put workers’ issues on the front burner in Richmond, means we can move Virginia in new, more progressive direction. No delays or excuses now,” he added.

President Spivey warned, though, “We must hold our allies accountable to fulfill their campaign promises to union voters who have waited a long time for positive change. And you can believe Steelworkers in Newport News are not going away.”