Ballots are still being counted, but one thing is certain: union members made the difference in contests across the country.
Union members were instrumental in electing Joe Biden president and Kamala Harris vice president – the first woman and first person of color to hold the position, a truly historic moment.
CFA members talked with voters on behalf of candidates and initiatives championing equal access, equality, and social justice. Hundreds of CFA members volunteered almost 5,000 hours and sent 2 million texts on behalf of Propositions 15, 16 and 22. We collaborated extensively with the North Valley Labor Federation, where CFA contributed 1 million of NVLF’s 2.25 million texts to voters. Three of the Federation’s top five texters were from CFA.
In addition to hitting the text and phone banks, some CFA members ran for and won election to office! These members are incredible public servants, and their communities – and CFA – are lucky to have them. CFA Los Angeles Chapter Vice President Nichelle Henderson won her race for Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) Trustee, and is excited to continue her public service by advocating for equity and access to higher education.
“I believe in the power of education, the importance of representation, and the intrinsic value of being of service to others. CFA trained me to be a leader that stands firmly for what I believe and fights for what is just. I ran for office to bring representation to the Black students, faculty and staff of the LACCD,” Henderson said. “I saw an opportunity to be a voice for those that for too long have been silenced due to a lack of diversity, equity, and access. I ran because I was determined to be the change that I want to see in education. If you want to be a change-maker and are considering a run for office, believe in yourself enough to do it.”
There were many victories across California: Los Angeles County elected a police reformer for district attorney; state voters restored voting for ex-felons; an affordable housing advocate unseated a two-term incumbent for Oakland City Council.
With the victories, come the losses. CFA’s three-priority ballot initiatives – Propositions 15 (funding for public schools and services), 16 (bringing back affirmative action) and 22 (gig worker protections) – will not go our way.
Proposition 15 looks headed for defeat. The measure would have recaptured $12 billion a year for public services by closing a corporate property tax loophole. Our efforts to reinvest in public education by making billionaires and corporations pay their fair share will continue. There are some successful models for increasing funding. For example, in Long Beach, voters passed an increase to the city’s oil severance tax to fund racial equity programs. San Francisco voters passed a tax on CEO compensation. And CFA has convened a task force with other unions to study revenue enhancements to provide adequate, stable funding for public education.
“The pandemic has only exacerbated the need for state funding of public services,” said Steven Filling, CFA Political Action and Legislative Committee Chair. “It is clear to many that we need to find ways to enhance California’s revenue stream, as the City of Long Beach has done, so that our state can continue to provide the social services and public higher education that are the envy of the world. We will be working with our sibling unions, with policy makers, and with elected officials to find ways to enable California to continue leading the way.”