Supported by Council for a Livable World
The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Jason Altmire in his successful 2008 House of Representatives run as candidate for Pennsylvania. He has also been previously supported by the Council.
Workers and their allies "showed that boots on the ground can trample even the best-funded pro-corporate SuperPAC operations when they propelled Democratic state representative Mark Critz to victory over his opponent, Jason Altmire."
The 12th Congressional District in Pennsylvania saw two incumbents, Critz and Altmire, battle it out for the Democratic nomination for Congress. The new lines were drawn by a Republican legislature "determined to get rid of a Democratic seat and, at the same time, hold onto a seat for blue dog Democrat Altmire, who usually voted with Republicans".
United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said of Altmire: "He broke his word by his conservative voting record that put him on the side of the opposing political party more often than on the side of working families."
The big issue in the campaign against Altmire was his decision to vote against the health care reform law backed by President Obama. Altmire sided with Republicans, saying it would be too expensive and that it would add to the deficit.
The Steelworkers countered by saying the National Health Care Avt was a big step forward and that eventually even more had to be done. The union said that Medicare for All was the long term solution.
The labor movement was angry too because Altmire voted against "job creation programs" proposed by both fellow Democrats and the Obama administration and he backed Republican efforts in Congress to curb the enforcement powers of both the National Labor Relations Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The USW and a host of other unions put together a campaign low on funds but high in the number of volunteers and "showed Almire what can happen to lawmakers who double cross working families".
"One by one we persuaded voters and helped motivate a solid turnout to overcome the advantages in the re-drawn district that was thought to belong to Altmire," Gerard said.
When Critz entered the race he trailed Altmire by 24 points and just before election night he was behind by as much as 7 points in the polls.
"Labor and community allies ran an experienced, smart grassroots field program with shoe leather and sheer determination," Gerard said.
Unions hope to repeat the kind of operation they ran for Critz in districts across the country this year. It involved bringing information about the campaign into worksites, the establishment of union-run phone banks independent of any political party operation, and "labor walks" through various neighborhoods.
The USW says it had 400 members participating in the campaign on a regular basis.
Steelworkers tally sheets show that union members knocked on 5,211 doors the night before and the day of the election.
In an election night tweet, Critz wrote: "Thank you Steelworkers, SEIU, AFL-CIO and all of labor! I couldn't have done it without you!"