USW Endorses Cordray at Warren Campaign Stop

WARREN, Ohio – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray and leaders of organized labor are optimistic about winning back working class voters who supported Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cordray, who was Ohio’s treasurer and attorney general, and more recently director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, kicked off his “Economic Opportunity Tour” Friday at the United Steelworkers Local 1375 hall here.

Cordray will be a governor who invests in the citizens of Ohio, Pat Gallagher, District 1 Sub-District 1 director, said as he announced the USW endorsement.

“We have two types of public officials. We have those that are politicians and those that are public servants,” he said. Cordray “is a public servant.”

“Very rarely do we get a candidate that checks all of the boxes for us [and is] the smartest guy in the room just about everywhere he goes,” Gallagher added. Aside from his political career, Cordray is known as a five-time undefeated champion on Jeopardy!.

Cordray told union leaders from the auto, steel and aluminum industries that he and running-mate Betty Sutton are concentrating on “kitchen-table issues” such as access to affordable health care, education and training to fill workforce needs, and spreading economic opportunity across the state.

“There are many areas in Ohio that continue to feel left out and left behind, that they do not have a voice in Columbus and that nobody is listening to what they need and want for their communities,” he said.

Cordray warned that his opponent, Attorney Generel Mike DeWine “has sided consistently with special interests” during his long career in government.

This week, DeWine and his running mate, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, picked up several labor endorsements, including two Friday from the Tri-State Building Trades and the Affiliated Construction Trades, or ACT Ohio.

“The future of our state’s economy, jobs and infrastructure is of the greatest importance to our member and their families, and Mike DeWine is the right candidate to fight for them,” Tri State representative Mark Johnson said.

“I have no doubt that Mike DeWine and Jon Husted are ‘all in’ when it comes to job creation,” added Matthew Szollosi, executive director of ACT Ohio.

Other labor organizations endorsing the GOP ticket include the International Union of Operating Engineers, Ohio Conference of Plasterers & Cement Masons and Sheet Metal Workers Locals 24 and 33.

Building trades are “predominantly with” the Democratic ticket, Cordray said, including the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council locally, as well as the Upper Ohio Valley building trades in Steubenville, Parkersburg-Marietta and Cleveland.

“There are some that have supported the other side but for the most part people are recognizing that if you want to stand with someone who stands with you, that’s Rich Cordray,” he continued. Later in the day, the United Mine Workers were to announce their endorsement for his ticket, he said.

Trump won Ohio two years ago, a win largely attributed to his ability to attract working-class voters. He carried traditionally Trumbull County, normally Democratic territory, and narrowly lost Mahoning County.

“The vote for the presidency does not affect the vote for the state of Ohio, and I don’t believe its indicative of what the people are feeling in the governor’s race,” said Jose Arroyo, staff representative for USW Local 9401.

 “A lot of our people have seen the light,” he added. A couple of years into his presidency, Trump “hasn’t delivered on any of his promises.”

Arroyo said DeWine “hasn’t been a great friend of labor in the past,” and called his positions on righ-to-work and prevailing wage “troubling.”

“We’re going to work as hard as we can until election day to get Cordray elected as governor,” Gary Steinbeck, USW Sub-District 1 director, pledged.

“We’re getting a lot of people that regretted the way they voted” in the 2016 presidential election, said Bill Padisak, president of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO.

Padisak noted that Democrats have “a far better candidate” for governor this year than they did four years ago, when Ed FitzGerald led the statewide ticket.

“People remember what [Cordray] did in his statewide positions before and they’re fired up. They’re excited,” he said.

There is also “kickback” against what has happened in Ohio during the past eight years under Gov. John Kasich in terms of cutting money to local communities, schools and governments. “They see what this administration has done and they want a change. That’s what I’m hearing from people,” Padisak said.  

Cordray pointed to his efforts while state treasurer to help people keep their homes during the financial crisis, as well as his work as attorney general when Forum Health was being purchased and when Chrysler and General Motors entered bankruptcy.

“Lordstown was at risk. This area was at risk,” he said. “We pushed and pushed and worked and worked to make sure that Ohio was protected in that proceeding, that Lordstown was protected, that jobs were saved.”

Cordray underscored his support of collective bargaining, and recalled the fight in 2011 to repeal Senate Bill 5, which would have curtailed such rights for public employees.

“It was an effort to divide the labor movement, private sector against public sector, and we didn’t let that happen,” he said.

Meeting with reporters after his remarks, Cordray indicated support for keeping JobsOhio, the private entity created to in 2011 to lead Ohio’s economic development efforts, although he said the agency needs greater transparency and accountability.

And he called for greater infrastructure spending on roads, bridges and broadband expansion to promote economic development – to be funded by a bond issue if federal dollars aren’t forthcoming — and a focus on workforce development.

He also called for keeping the Medicaid expansion in place, which he said is providing a safety net for one million Ohioans and addiction treatment for 200,000 Ohioans.

“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” he said

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.