Local State Senator Sam McCann recently received a strong endorsement from one of Illinois’ largest trade unions.
Last Friday, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 held a General Membership Meeting in which they formally announced the organization’s endorsement of two Illinois gubernatorial candidates. On the Democratic side, Local 150 lent their support to candidate J.B. Pritzker. The union’s other endorsement was given to third party Conservative candidate Sam McCann, who, despite currently serving as a Republican Senator for central Illinois’ 50th district, decided to make a run at the state’s top political office.
The Operating Engineers Local 150 represents around 23,000 men and women throughout Illinois, Indiana and Iowa who work in numerous industries, including earth moving, concrete pumping, drilling, landscape construction, pipeline construction and more.
In terms of how this particular union decides who to tie themselves to politically, Local 150 Spokesman Ed Maher discusses the types of principles the union looks for in a particular candidate.
“Local 150 doesn’t endorse based on social issues, we look for candidates who are committed to strong prevailing wage laws, to protecting worker’s rights on the job, to promoting and preserving collective bargaining, to supporting responsible and long-term investment in infrastructure, and opposing right-to-work laws in all forms: state, local, national,” says Maher.
Maher explains why the Operating Engineers Local 150 chose to support McCann over other Republican or Conservative candidates.
“When Sam McCann indicated that he was interested in potentially exploring a run for governor, we had supported him after he stood up and fought Bruce Rauner when Rauner started to attack public employees. McCann, in his district, he represents a lot of government workers, state workers and a lot of other public employees. He understands that the state works when middle class workers are making a good living, and that union workers and public employees add value to the state’s economy. He’s proven that in his fights against Bruce Rauner that have taken place repeatedly. So we wanted to provide our members who vote on the Republican or Conservative side of the ticket with an option for a candidate who represents their values on various issues and will not attack them,” explains Maher.
Maher says that the membership of Local 150 is rather diverse when it comes to political affiliations. He discusses some of the union’s views on current Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, and explains why they felt it important to endorse a candidate such as McCann over the incumbent.
“Local 150 is a very politically diverse organization. We represent about 23,000 men and women across Indiana, Illinois and Iowa and about 16,000 of those are in Illinois. Among our members in Illinois, we have nearly a 50-50 split of Democrats or Republican/Conservative members. In the last election, where it was Pat Quinn versus Bruce Rauner, Republican or Conservative members who simply would not pull a ballot for a Democrat, had no choice but to decide to either sit out the election or vote for Bruce Rauner, who was going to attack their union. So it’s important to us that that half of our membership in Illinois has got a viable option for a candidate who is not going to attack their livelihood, their job, their union,” Maher says.
In his official statement regarding the endorsements, Local 150 President-Business Manager James M. Sweeney pointed to the fact that both Pritzker and McCann oppose “right-to-work” laws, support strong prevailing wages, and place investments in infrastructure into the top priorities of their respective political agendas.