Yet Another Example Of A Union Leader Getting Involved To ‘Make Things Better For All:’ OPEIU’s Shaun Francis Runs For 43rd New York State Senate District Seat
Francis - An OPEIU Rep Who Also Serves As Executive Director For A Minor League Baseball Umpire’s Union - Looks To Unseat Incumbent Republican, Says Working People ‘Need’ Working People Representatives In Office Because They ‘Understand’ The Issues
(SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK) – As he’s gone door-to-door over the past several months talking to the voters who live in the 43rd New York State Senate District, Democratic/Working Families Party Candidate Shaun Francis has spoken to a lot of Working People, residents who are also Union Members employed by government and in education in Columbia County and across parts of Saratoga, Washington and Rensselaer counties.
And it has become more and more apparent, he tells WNYLaborToday.com in a telephone interview from the Albany-area, just days before the November 8th Election, that when the dust settles, if Working People are going to prosper in the future, they have to elect candidates who are 100% - “from issue one to issue one-hundred” – in support of “our” agenda.
“I know people ‘get frustrated’ (with those elected officials who aggressively seek the support of Organized Labor, but tend to take a back seat from time to time in regards to the issues important to Labor once in office), but (Unions) ‘need’ candidates who are ‘supportive of every single one of our’ issues,” the 37-year-old Francis told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper.
“I’m a ‘Labor Candidate,’ that’s what I’m running as - but ‘we have to go further than that.’ We have to ‘cultivate our own’ candidates (from within Organized Labor),” he continued. “We have to ‘go out and find our own.’ We ‘need’ people who ‘understand’ (what Working People face and have to go through). We ‘need’ people who fight ‘unfair’ workplace practices, handle grievances and negotiate contracts. That’s ‘how important it is to have our own Members make the decision to run for office.’ Then when someone like myself is elected, ‘you don’t have to explain the issues to me because I’ve lived it.’ We’ll be ‘well-served’ by those from ‘our own’ ranks. ‘Win or lose, I will be doing more of this’ (find candidates from within Organized Labor to run for office).”
The Wilton resident is a former professional minor league baseball umpire who later served as president of the Independent Association of Minor League Umpires Union from 2007 to 2012.
He played an integral role in helping the Umpires Union affiliate with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), which was so impressed with Francis that Union Leadership offered him an International Representative/Organizer position, which he initially worked in the off-season before becoming a full-time rep, while maintaining the position of Executive Director of the Umpires’ Union.
Michael Goodwin, OPEIU’s former National President who now serves as Region II/Local 153’s Business Manager, hired Francis for the position.
“He was such a ‘great’ talent,” Goodwin told WNYLaborToday.com of Francis. “I hired him as an International Rep. He is such a ‘quality’ person who has ‘good, progressive values.’ ‘I couldn’t be more proud of him.’ I’m ‘very optimistic he will make it over the finish line’. He has a ‘great’ future.”
Goodwin also echoed what Francis had said about the need for Organized Labor to find those within its own ranks to run for public office: “It’s critical. The Labor Movement gets ‘screwed’ by many of those who are elected. We ‘need more’ Union Members in office because Workers ‘are much better’ (when it comes to understanding what Working People need).”
Said Francis: “With OPEIU, I became ‘very active” in politics (and was involved in a number of races that received support from his Union), including the 2012 Presidential Race and Gubernatorial and Senate races in Alaska. When I came back home, I found myself ‘turned off’ by my current elected representative, (State Senator Kathleen Marchione), who was an ‘extreme Right Wing zealot.’ She was ‘against everything,’ including being ‘Anti-Worker.’ I just decided that I ‘didn’t want her to represent me anymore.’”
That’s when Francis began thinking about making a run for the 43rd Senate District Seat, even though – admittedly, the Democratic Party had not targeted the seat. Republicans do hold a nearly 7,000 vote advantage in the 212,000-plus district, but Francis is buoyed by its past history of voting for Democrats.
“(The Democratic Party) ‘hadn’t made a full effort’ (in ousting the incumbent Republican), they ‘hadn’t put their shoulder into it’” he said. “I began my run in January 2015. ‘I believed if I ran a good campaign, I could win’ – because it was going to be a Presidential Election year and the Republican district was won by President Obama in 2012 and that (New York/U.S. Senators Charles) Schumer and (Kirsten) Gillibrand had also won the district in their past races.”
While he said he does not have the monetary budget his Republican opponent has, Francis has recently started running TV, radio and print ads and has received a number of Labor endorsements (OPEIU, the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainsmen the Communications Workers of America, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Iron Workers, the New York State Nurses Association, and the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters).
He is also receiving additional help from a number of Unions, including Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200, which is mailing out informational fliers to their Members who live in the district.
“I’ve gotten a lot of ‘positive’ feedback,” Francis said of his campaign. “Being a Union Member ‘is not frowned upon here’ like in ‘other’ places, like Texas. Unions ‘aren’t looked at negatively.’”
Francis is running on a number of issues, including: The need to rebuild our infrastructure of today and to build the modern infrastructure of tomorrow; Providing quality public education, regardless of zip code; Standing up for women’s rights; Growing our main streets; Providing clean, safe and healthy drinking water for all; Working to protect our planet; and Working to prevent gun deaths while protecting our 2nd Amendment Rights (For More on Francis and his campaign, go to: www.shaun-francis.com/home-1.html).
However, campaign finance reform and wiping out corruption in Albany politics is a major campaign issue for Francis.
“It’s the ‘money’ in politics that ‘creates’ the corruption,” he told WNYLaborToday.com. “We ‘need’ publicly-funded campaigns because ‘we cannot sustain’ the ‘bought and paid for.’ We ‘need to fight and lead the way on this.’ You ‘can’t allow’ candidates to ‘outspend’ their opponent ‘on the way’ to winning an election.”