Every year, the affiliated unions of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO vote on which election candidates to endorse based on their voting records and stances on working family issues. Our state federation has a proud history of endorsing both Democratic and Republican candidates who support working families and the core values of the Labor Movement.

Working in partnership with the AFL-CIO Political Department, New Jersey’s Central Labor Councils, Building Trades Councils and affiliated local unions, our COPE program coordinates a statewide effort to educate union members about our endorsements and the benefits of voting for candidates who will put working families first.

COPE also manages the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates Program. Launched in 1997, the Labor Candidates Program recruits, trains and mentors union members running for public office. To date, the program has guided 1,087 union members to election victories. Our Labor Candidates hold offices at nearly every level of state, county and local government—from state Senate and Assembly to County Freeholder and School Board.


Election Victories

Labor 2020

Labor 2020 Toolkit

With the entire New Jersey State Assembly, one special State Senate, and as many as 80 county and local offices sought by rank-and-file labor candidates on the ballot, the 2019 General Election is an opportunity to win big for our unions, community allies, progressive partners and all working families throughout New Jersey.

This is our chance to launch a major labor offensive, our chance to expand working family representation in the State Assembly and strengthen the voice of organized labor throughout New Jersey. We have all witnessed first-hand the powerful influence of anti-worker state legislatures. For instance, since 2012, five states (Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia) along with several counties in New Mexico have passed Right-to-Work legislation. However, if we stand together, the New Jersey labor movement is uniquely positioned to repel these anti-worker policies and advance a progressive labor agenda that will benefit all working families.

Our candidates are fighting for an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. They are fighting to make healthcare more affordable and to ensure equal pay for equal work.

Every vote counts. There is strength in numbers, and when we vote and encourage our families to vote, we can make a difference. If you don’t stand up for what you believe in and elect candidates who will work for you, others will—and you may not like the outcome.

All Endorsed Canidates

Labor Walks

Labor walks are how we make our voices heard!

In 2018, during the midterm elections, our volunteers knocked on over 366,000 union-household doors to help spread the word about our endorsed candidates. This led to the election of a U.S. Senator, all 12 labor-endorsed Congressional candidates, nine State Senate and Assembly members, and fifty labor candidates.

In these difficult times, with the constant attacks on workers’ rights and union rights, we need to make an extra effort to ensure that we elect candidates who will place the needs of working families first. With each street we canvas and door we knock on, we edge closer towards our goal, and we must not quit until we educate every last union member.

Walking door-to-door is key to winning elections. Even with all the new technology that’s out there, nothing can replicate the impact of one-on-one conversations. That’s why we need you to walk with us every Saturday that you can. Whether you’ve walked before or this is your first time, your voice is essential to our success.

There’s no such thing as a sure victory. This is why we encourage every affiliated union to provide volunteers to participate in our labor walks, which take place every Saturday, from 8:30 am – 12:00 pm, during the election season. All volunteers should bring their smartphones to utilize MiniVAN, our app-based walk system.

Only through the efforts of our volunteers can we realize the strength of our labor movement. If we work together, and we walk together, we will win together!

Volunteer Opportunities

Labor School

The Labor Candidates School and Non-Partisan Training Seminars are the cornerstones of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s political program. At the Labor Candidates School, which is held every summer, election experts instruct union members about fund-raising and election law, research, message development, public speaking, media relations, voter contact, volunteer recruitment, targeting and get-out-the-vote. Participants are awarded full scholarships by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.

More than 150 Labor Candidates School graduates currently hold public office. This includes Congressman Donald Norcross, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Troy Singleton, Assemblyman Joe Egan, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, Assemblyman Tom Giblin, Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty.

As officeholders, our graduates have championed policies that reflect the priorities of New Jersey’s working families, such as paid family leave and raising the minimum wage.

Labor Candidates Program

Labor Candidates Resolution

Labor Candidate Requirements

Proposed by the Labor Candidates Sub-Committee on January 31, 2006 and approved unanimously by the New Jersey AFL-CIO Executive Board on Monday, June 12, 2006

The President and Secretary/Treasurer agreed to memorialize the Board’s action describing the standards which must be met by a union member in order to be considered a New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidate. The standards are as follows:

1. Union members seeking candidacy to elected office must notify and secure the support of their local union President/Business Manager

2. As soon as the local union is advised of a union member’s intention to seek election to public office, the local union President/Business Manager shall notify the local Central Labor Council(s) and the New Jersey State AFL-CIO about their candidacy.

3. After obtaining the support of the local union leadership, the union member seeking candidacy for elected office must be considered and reviewed by their local Central Labor Council and finally by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.

4. After a positive review by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, the union member seeking candidacy for elected office must attend and graduate from the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates School. However, a union member who is the incumbent office holder and is seeking re-election to said office does not, if he or she so determines, have to attend and graduate from the Labor Candidates School. This personal investment by the union member demonstrates a commitment to represent New Jersey’s working families. Additionally, the union member must commit to work on WORKER/VOTER, member education, and Get-Out-The-Vote activities.

Labor Candidates Pledge

Become a Labor Candidate

Union members are Republicans and Democrats, that’s why we encourage and support union members to run through both major political parties. To learn more about the Labor Candidates Program or to enroll in the Labor Candidates School, please complete and submit the form below.

Take advantage of the many resources available to support your election campaign! When union members run, working families win!!!

No one can represent working families and their unions better than working people themselves. That’s why the New Jersey State AFL-CIO sponsors an ongoing program to recruit, train, mentor, and support union brothers and sisters running for elected office. Through the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates School, union members gain the skills they need to succeed in the political arena.

Candidate Sign Up


Door-to-door canvassing — “retail politics,” some people call it — is the most effective way to get the issues to the voters and the voters to the polls. The MiniVAN program is the future of canvassing that gets results.

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