The nationally acclaimed New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates School has equipped its 24th annual class of labor candidates with cutting-edge strategies for Election 2020, a historic and unprecedented vote in an equally historic and unprecedented year.
With their successful completion of the Labor Candidates School, the labor candidates are now among nearly 50 union brothers and sisters who carry the endorsement of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and can jump into campaign season. Labor candidates in 2020 are running for county and local elected offices, with national races at the top of their ballots.
The six nights of socially distanced training by videoconference included COVID-relevant guidance about fundraising, social media and digital strategy, developing and delivering messages centered on union values, doing campaign research, and vote-by-mail and get-out-the-vote. These and other related presentations centered on the theme of How to Run a Successful Election Campaign during the Pandemic.
The school’s graduates praised their experience.
“Being as green as I am to the political arena,” said Kyle Miller of IBEW 351, “the AFL-CIO Labor Candidate School gave me the confidence and political strategy I needed to attack the election season.” Brother Miller is running for Woodbury Council.
“I believe that the class was very helpful, considering that I am a novice when it comes to social media,” said Michael Tolomeo of IBEW 351. “I posted a picture of a VBM drop box and Camden County locations with a short message attached to one of our towns’ Facebook pages, and it created a storm of controversy. I just sat back and watched the fireworks like we discussed the other night.” Brother Tolomeo is a candidate for Stratford Council.
“Aside from the benefit of expanding my network, the Labor Candidates School has sharpened my knowledge of ever-changing strategies as we work through the adjustments of the ‘New Normal’,” said Matte Kane of UFCW 152. “The support and push to ‘plan your work and work your plan’ is priceless, as we rarely have a motivating force other than ourselves during a campaign.” Brother Kane is seeking a seat on the Corbin City Council.
Dolores Phillips of CWA 1089 noted that the Labor Candidate School was “very helpful to me. I’m not a tech-savvy person, and so I was going into this feeling very limited because I didn’t know how I was going to have interactions with voters when I couldn’t go knocking on doors. I’m able to do so much more than I ever was before, and if I hadn’t gone to the school, I would still be that person who didn’t know how to do anything.” Sister Phillips is a candidate for Montvale Council.
The digitally focused school was tailored to the Election 2020 campaign realities of social distancing and minimal in-person voting. Most New Jerseyans will vote by mail, and will start receiving their ballots less than a month from now. The 24th annual New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates School has given these union members a tool kit for victory.