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Construction groups announce support for candidates ahead of November race

Construction industry groups across the state have announced their endorsements for governor and U.S. Senate candidates ahead of the election on Nov. 8.

In Wisconsin’s 2022 midterm election, Democrat incumbent Tony Evers will face Republican businessman Tim Michels, co-owner of Michels Corp., for the governor’s race. In the U.S. Senate Race, Democrat lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes is running against Republican incumbent Ron Johnson.

Unions and contractor associations made their endorsements based on a wide range of issues, including job creation, wages and benefits, open shop advocacy and tackling the skilled labor shortage the state faces currently.

Wisconsin Building Trades Council 

The Wisconsin Building Trades Council, a statewide organization with 40,000 members, formally endorsed Evers and Barnes in their races in August. The group picked them “with confidence that they understand the priorities of union members and will tackle the issues important to all workers to help strengthen the working class,” Board President Jac Weitzel said.

The WBTC also endorsed Josh Kaul, a Democrat running for re-election against Republican Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney.

Wisconsin Laborers’ District Council 

The Wisconsin Laborers’ District Council endorsed Evers for governor and Barnes for U.S. Senate, President and Business Manager Kent Miller said. The union supported Evers for his advocacy on issues like repealing Right to Work laws and reinstating prevailing wages, and Barnes for supporting acts like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the PRO Act.

When picking governor and U.S. Senate candidates, the union focused on its goals of creating family supporting jobs and workers’ rights when making endorsement decisions, Miller said.

Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin 

Madison-based Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin said in October it would endorse Michels and Johnson ahead of the election. ABC said it supported Johnson because of his advocacy for open shops and competition and said Michels understood the issues within the construction industry.

“On behalf of its nearly 1,000 employers it represents, ABC of Wisconsin proudly endorses the first builder that will become Wisconsin governor – Tim Michels,” ABC of Wisconsin Director of Legal and Government Relations John Schulze said. “For Tim, building Wisconsin and getting more people into the skilled trades isn’t a talking point. It’s a problem he has successfully solved each and every day in the real world.”

The association will also support Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden in his run for the U.S. House seat, officials added.

IBEW Local 2150 

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2150, based in Menomonee Falls, endorsed Evers and Barnes as early voting started, the union’s website said. In a list of endorsed candidates, the union said the candidates had been screened and all stand for workers’ rights and are against Right to Work laws.

On his campaign website, Barnes said he spent years fighting alongside union workers as an organizer and a state representative.

“I am so proud to have earned the support of IBEW Local 2150,” Barnes said. “I’ve spent years fighting by their side as an organizer, a state representative, and as Lt. Governor. I have tremendous respect for IBEW members and the work they do across the state, and I look forward to fighting in solidarity with them in the U.S. Senate.”

The union also announced its support for Democratic congressional candidate Brad Pfaff in June.

IBEW Local 494 

In Milwaukee, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 494 endorsed Barnes and Evers, like its sister organization in Menomonee Falls, according to the union website. Local 494 announced its endorsement for Barnes in August after he won the primary race.

“IBEW Local 494 would like to congratulate Lieutenant Governor Barnes on his primary election victory … and announce that our Local Union has endorsed his campaign for United States Senate,” Local 494 Business Manager Dean Warsh said. “The stakes could not be higher in November’s election and that is why we are publicly announcing our support of his campaign to represent Wisconsin’s working families.”

Iron Workers Union Local 8 

Milwaukee-based Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 8 pledged its support for Barnes in May. The union announced its pick in conjunction with Communication Workers of America and the Working Families Party.

Local 8 chose Barnes because his campaign “is based on restoring and expanding opportunity across Wisconsin,” with focuses on health care, economic progress, education and environmental protection, the union said in a statement.

About Ethan Duran

Ethan Duran is the construction and development reporter at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 551-7505 or [email protected]

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