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AFL-CIO Now

Pennsylvania Vote for Critz Showcased Working Families' Mobilization

As the news is full of stories about the super-rich and corporate CEOs giving millions of dollars in secret donations to Mitt Romney and Karl Rove to run negative TV ads, working people have not only fought back—we're already winning.

Rep. Mark Critz was supposed to lose in the Republican gerrymandered congressional district (PA-12). The newly drawn district was two-thirds Rep. Jason Altmire’s, who had only just a month ago led all the polls from 15 to 25 percentage points.   

The pundits all said Critz didn’t have a shot, even with the support of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. They said it was a “test” for labor’s “ground game,” with the expectation we would fail. But working families never doubted the power of people speaking to their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Led by the United Steelworkers (USW), the Mine Workers (UMWA), SEIU and the Alliance for Retired Americans, more than 600 volunteers knocked on more than 10,000 doors, made more than 64,000 phone calls and sent more than 36,000 pieces of mail.

And it worked. Critz won in a huge upset.

Critz won union voters in his old district by staggering margins (91 percent to 9 percent among active members; 73 percent to 27 percent among retired members; and 70 percent to 30 percent among union householders). Critz also won retired union members and union householders in Altmire’s old district and narrowed Altmire’s support among active union members in the old PA-04 by 10 percent, compared with our survey of the district in late March.

 As The Tribune Democrat noted:

Critz repeatedly said he believed the AFL-CIO’s “ground game” could push him over the top.

And the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explained, Tuesday’s victory:

Mr. Critz used his deep home base support and the awakened might of organized labor to win.

Critz’s victory is an example of the new model working families are applying to politics. It will no longer be about how much money A spends on TV versus what B spends on TV. It’s about the energy and value that volunteers and organizes bring. About combining old-fashioned energy with cutting-edge technology. About putting boots on the ground online and offline.

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