Union members made up a sizable portion of voters in the Nov. 7 elections and influenced the results in many key races, the national AFL-CIO said.
Union households made up a record 26 percent of voters, up from 23 percent in 1996 and 1998, according to a national survey of union members conducted by the independent polling firm Peter Hart Research Associates.
In Minnesota, union members also had a tremendous influence, the Minnesota AFL-CIO said.
"We stood up and turned out for an America that's about real people, not about special corporate interests," said John Sweeney, president of the national AFL-CIO, whose affliated unions represent more than 13 million working men and women and 40 million members of union households.
Nationally, union members voted for Al Gore for president by a margin of 63 percent to 32 percent, according to the Hart survey.
In Minnesota, Al Gore received 60 percent of the union vote, said Bernard Brommer, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, which represents 400,000 workers across the state. Union members were key to the wins by U.S. Senate candidate Mark Dayton and Congressional candidates Betty McCollum and Bill Luther, he added.
Grass roots effort
"Union members reached out to union members," Brommer said. "We discussed the issues. We discussed the candidates and their positions. We made phone calls and distributed leaflets. We focused on the issues and we provided information of fundamental importance to the membership.
"It is clear from the involvement we saw this year that union members really do understand the promise and the responsibility of democracy."
This year, the labor movement launched its largest grass roots mobilization effort ever -- the Labor 2000 program -- that activated the nation's union members in political activities to influence crucial working family issues such as Social Security, health care and education.
Union members added 2.3 million people in union households to the voter rolls -- up from half a million added in 1998, the national AFL-CIO said. More than 1,000 Labor 2000 coordinators trained and organized hundreds of thousands of union volunteers to help educate union members about the candidates and get out the vote. An additional 500 coordinators joined in the effort in the final few weeks.
All told, Labor 2000 activists made 8 million personal phone calls and sent out 12 million pieces of mail -- not including phone-banking and mailing conducted by individual union affiliates and state labor federations.