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How to Establish a Local Union Candidate Endorsement Process

One way to expand your local’s political program, increase interaction with candidates running for elected office, and grow your local’s influence in the political process is to establish a local union endorsement process. Below are suggested steps to get started, but each local determines its own independent process.

STEP 1: Assign a point of contact for endorsement consideration within the local

  • It is recommended that the local’s Political Coordinator (PC) serve in this role.
  • If the assigned point person is not the PC, communicate all candidate endorsement requests and decisions to the PC to keep them apprised.

STEP 2: Designate a deliberative body responsible for making decisions on endorsements

  • Viable options include the local’s executive board, political committee, or general membership.
  • Establish a clear democratic process for reaching local endorsements.

STEP 3: Draft a questionnaire for candidates seeking the local’s endorsement

  • A standard questionnaire will contain questions about the candidate’s stances on labor issues and issues specific to your local.

  • Ask about the candidate’s existing relationship with the local and knowledge of IATSE’s industry/crafts.

  • Click here to view a sample questionnaire for a federal candidate. For a state/local candidate questionnaire, replace the template questions pertaining to federal issues with state and local issues.

STEP 4: Invite candidates to speak in front of the local’s deliberative body for endorsements

  • After completing the questionnaire, invite candidates to discuss their campaign, why they are running, and issues important to the local.

  • Ask them why they are seeking to earn your local’s endorsement and how they will prioritize behind-the-scenes entertainment workers if elected

STEP 5: Perform endorsement due diligence

  • Research all candidates for the office being considered and allow those interested an opportunity to seek the local’s endorsement.
  • Communicate with the AFL-CIO state federation and/or central labor council regarding their endorsed candidates in state and local races. These bodies often release a full slate of endorsed candidates that have been vetted by the local labor community. The local may choose to take their slate into consideration.

STEP 6: Vote

After considering all the candidates, hearing from those seeking the local’s support, and verifying their labor credentials with local labor bodies, it is time for the local’s deliberative body for endorsements (See Step 2) to vote.

STEP 7: If local votes to endorse a candidate:

  • Notify the IATSE Political/Legislative Department. Visit the IATSE Political Endorsement Tracker and submit the online form. This is key to ensuring the International’s political program is effective and reflects the interests of its members.

  • Collaborate with the campaign on a mutual rollout of the endorsement. Endorsement rollout can take the form of a press statement, a post on the local’s social media platforms, a joint appearance, or something similar. Communication of the endorsement is for the local to determine, but this is an important element of the process.

STEP 8: Remain in contact with elected officials the local has endorsed

  • Hold elected officials accountable to the pledges and commitments they made to earn the local’s endorsement.
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