The UA’s Role In The Political Process
As a labor union representing approximately 300,000 building tradesmen across North America, the United Association (UA) serves as a voice for our members by maintaining an active presence in Washington and staying in close contact with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. We also work to elect local and national leaders who will take positions that we can support and that make life better for working people. The UA Political and Legislative Affairs Department strives to keep our members up-to-date on all our efforts and we want this Legislative Page to be an additional means for us to do so.
We also hope this page will let others outside the United Association understand our efforts and how what happens on Capitol Hill may affect them as well.
But, we don’t rely on our efforts in Washington, DC to make all the difference. We believe that the most effective and influential means of advancing a political position is through grass roots lobbying, good old-fashioned, one-on-one communication between a constituent and his or her member of Congress.
We urge our union members and all working people to become educated on the issues and to empower themselves by contacting their senators and representatives on those particular bills which may affect their families.
Who speaks for the American worker?
Every day, decisions are made in Washington, DC, which affect the lives of working people. New bills are continually introduced before Congress that can have a major impact on important workplace issues and many more of our most basic rights as employees.
The halls of the Capitol are filled with lobbyists and representatives of big business eager to put forth their views on the latest legislation. But do you ever wonder who is there to speak on behalf of the majority of Americans? Who protects the interests of average working people?
The truth is that the only consistent voices to be raised on behalf of workers throughout history have been the voices of members of the organized labor movement.
The Role of Political Action Committees
Political Action Committees (PACs) have come under a lot of fire in the media and are frequently cited as an example of why we need campaign finance reform in the United States.
While our way of financing politics may not be ideal, PACs are not the problem. The truth is that under our current system political action committees offer one of the few ways that individual citizens can come together to make a significant impact on the political process.
Democracy in America is based on the premise that every individual can have a voice in the actions of government. In fact, the founders and greatest thinkers of our country have always insisted that for democracy to work, it must necessarily include the involvement of individual citizens.
But how do individuals like you make an impact? One way, of course, is by exercising your right to vote. Another way is through grassroots involvement on particular issues you care about. Finally, there is the issue of putting your financial support behind the candidates who you agree with.
We all know that money is part of the mechanics of our political system. The days of tree-stump campaign speeches are gone. Today, politicians running for office find they must have access to the sophisticated tools of the media to get their message across to the public and to get elected. This is the reality of the modern political era.
Without organizations like the United Association being able to set up funds which collectively represent the support of many individuals, only the very wealthy could afford to make significant campaign contributions. Our elected leaders would only reflect the interests of the rich and powerful and the American worker, the middle class backbone of our society would be forgotten.
So, the UA has set up the United Association Political Education Fund (UA-PEC) to assist in our political and legislative activities and to help give our members a voice in the political process. This fund does not come from union members’ dues. This fund only exists through contributions made specifically for the purpose of political activity. Every single cent of the money contributed freely by UA members goes to help elect union-supported candidates in local areas.
For more information about UA-PEC, or the use of political action committees, contact the UA Political and Legislative Department at (202) 628-5823 or contact the UA Webmaster.
Why is labor in Politics?
(Courtesy of AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education)
- To safeguard the gains it has made.
Not a single labor-management contract is worth the paper it is printed on if a Congress or state legislature wants to weaken or destroy it.
- To expand the opportunities and to increase the security of its members and of all Americans.
Through politics, progress is won. Witness the legislative record of recent years: Medicare, civil rights, aid to education. These bear directly, and beneficially, on the lives of union members and their fellow Americans.
- To fulfill its responsibilities of good citizenship.
Our democracy can flourish only with full participation of its citizens in its political life. The AFL-CIO encourages all members to register, to vote, to educate themselves on candidates and issues, and to be active in the party of their choice.