Election Follow-Up: Local ATU President Wins N.Y. City Council Seat; Three Unionists Win Vancouver, Wash., Offices

NEW YORK —Union members won more than just the Boston mayor’s race on Nov. 5, returns from around the country show.  Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 President I. Dameek Miller is a new New York City council member, and two unionists won seats on a commission to draft a new charter for Clark County, Wash., which includes Vancouver.  A third won a Fire and Rescue Commission seat.

I. DAMEEK MILLER (center), Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 president, won a New York City Council seat in the Nov. 5 election.  His victory was one of several down-ballot wins for unionists nationwide that day.  Photo courtesy the Miller campaign via PAI Photo Service.

I. DAMEEK MILLER (center), Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 president, won a New York City Council seat in the Nov. 5 election. His victory was one of several down-ballot wins for unionists nationwide that day. Photo courtesy the Miller campaign via PAI Photo Service.

Following a narrow win in New York’s September Democratic primary for an open seat, Miller, also known as a community organizer, coasted to victory in the fall.  He garnered 96.9% of the vote in his Queens district against a minor-party candidate.

Voters in Vancouver and surrounding Clark County elected 15 freeholders to spend 13 months drafting the charter.  They include Temple Lentz of UFCW Local 555 and Jim Moeller of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, the Northwest Labor Press reported.  Four other unionists lost freeholder races, while retired Painters officer Dave Town won a seat on Clark’s Fire and Rescue Commission.

Miller, Town, Lentz and Moeller join the ranks of active unionists in elected jobs, a roster now headed by Boston’s Mayor-elect, Martin Walsh (D), a Laborers Local 223 member and former president of the city’s Building Trades Council.  And all this could be a prelude to next year.  If U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, wins next fall against a GOP Tea Party incumbent, he’ll have a new title: Governor.

Unionists also racked up a win in New Jersey.  Though Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., who hacked at state workers’ pensions and teachers’ tenure, won re-election in a landslide, he had no coattails.  Unions put together a concerted drive, including voluntary campaign finance dollars, to successfully keep the legislature Democratic.

“There was a void, something was missing, particularly amongst labor views,” New York’s Miller told the Queens Courier after his primary win.  “There have been very tough times for labor and working families.  We said we needed to be in City Hall.  We said we needed to be at the table.  We’re at that table now.”

Miller has been at the table, speaking for transit unions.  Besides heading his ATU local, which represents drivers and mechanics in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Queens Bus Division, Miller co-chairs the MTA Labor Coalition of 29 unions representing more than 60,000 transit workers.  His website adds that Miller negotiated the first-ever child-care payment provision in a municipal union contract.

It also says he led successful fights for better wages, working conditions and benefits, and safety reforms at the MTA.  He told the Queens paper his top city council priorities would be upgrading education, transportation and job opportunities.

-PAI