It’s tough to build anything without carpenters and Mikie Sherrill seems convinced that goes for political campaigns as well.
Sherrill, the leading Democratic candidate for the District 11 congressional nomination, on Saturday accepted the endorsement of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters at a rally in Parsippany.
About 75 to 100 union carpenters, some waving signs and sporting buttons, gathered at the Parsippany PAL Building and cheered Sherrill when she appeared on stage. She was introduced as a friend of the middle class and as someone who has “dedicated her life to our country.”
Like many other unions, the carpenters said they want a candidate who backs workers’ rights in general and in particular, such things as the Davis-Bacon Act, which mandates that workers earn “prevailing wages” on public projects. They said Sherrill fits that mold.
Sherrill told the crowd that her grandfather was a United Auto Workers employee at General Motors. And because of that, she said he was able to raise eight children, pay off his home and have good health care. Sherrill saw a connection between declining union membership and a struggling middle class.
“The middle class has been losing ground at the same rate that the unions are losing ground,” she said.
There’s no dispute about declining union membership.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that union membership in 2017 was 10.7 percent of the work force. In 1983, it was about 20 percent. The figures also show that union membership is much higher in the public sector than it is with private jobs.
Unions may not be the political force they once were, but Sherrill was thrilled to get support from a trade union group that represents about 40,000 members. The key, of course, is going to be how many of them actually vote in the district.