The Long Game Pays Off by Roger Brunelle

 In News, Newsletter: Summer '19

Over the last several years, I have written a number of articles about Union members running for office, and I have made the case that we can control our own destiny if we elect more of our own into public service. The Union member that becomes an elected official is a champion of our cause not because we ask them to be, but because that card-carrying member has dealt with the issues that affect working families. Those elected officials know the daily struggles that we face trying to provide for our families, complete our careers, and retire with dignity – with a pension that can support us for the rest of our lives. Let me tell you a story about what happens when we persist in pursuit of that goal.

The name Troy Jackson might sound familiar to you. Troy is a brother from IUPAT Local Union 1887 who has spent his life championing the fight for working families on the work site and as an elected official. He served in the Maine Legislature as a State Representative and then as a State Senator. In 2014, he stepped aside to run for Congress, and though he gave his all to the campaign, he came up a bit short. In 2015, DC 35 embarked on a campaign to return Troy Jackson to the Maine State Senate and ultimately try to find a way for him to become Senate President. In 2016, Troy regained his Senate seat. That same election cycle, resources were dedicated to flipping some of the more conservative seats in order to give Troy a Democratic controlled Senate, but Republicans were able to retain their majority. Two years later, in 2018, DC 35 was able to help return majority control of the Maine State Senate to the Democrats, giving Troy an opportunity to become Senate president. He worked very hard – successfully! – to convince his colleagues that he was the right person for the job.

Troy was not always a Union member. He was a logger by trade, and in 2014, DC 35 asked him if he would like to become a member of this great District Council. Known as “the Union member without a Union card,” Troy finally became a full-fledged member of the IUPAT, and we are proud to call him our Brother. I’m telling you this story because our strategy of persisting and playing the long game is paying off.

Troy is one of only three card-carrying Union members in the country that are President of their state senates, and he has used the power of his office to make sweeping changes for working families. In his first session as Senate President, Troy Jackson’s name appears on hundreds of bills that he directly sponsored or co-sponsored. Two dozen or more were directly supported by the Maine AFL-CIO or the Maine State Building Trades, but all the bills were filed with the sole purpose of helping the working men and women of the state of Maine. Of course, not all these bills have become law, but some have. Troy has fought for and educated his colleagues on why these pieces of legislation are so important to working families.

This is a prime example of why we need Union members in office. Many elected officials say they support Unions but still need to be educated on how certain laws would strengthen Organized labor. Troy’s unwavering efforts saw the passage of a Wage Theft bill, PLA bill, and Prevailing Wage fixes, just to name a few. Sometimes you lose a few battles, but you win the war. In Troy’s case, we fought every battle alongside our brother. We played the long game, and it’s paying off. When we fight, when we vote, when we elect Union members, we win!