February Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

Steelworkers' Continued Activism Helps Secure Pro-Worker Majority in U.S. Senate

Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe and fulfilling holiday season. 

As we prepare to fight the good fight to protect retirees’ and workers’ rights in 2023, I want you to keep one thing in mind:  Good things don’t usually just happen.  We have to be involved and push for the changes we want to see made. 

That’s why I’m so incredibly proud that Steelworkers, including SOAR members and retirees, worked so hard last year to ensure pro-retiree, pro-worker lawmakers were elected in local, state and federal government. 

We should all be celebrating that our hard work paid off because the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections turned out much better for retirees and workers than many had expected they would. 

Very Slim Majorities in U.S. Senate, House After 2022 Midterm Elections

With the victory of Reverend Raphael Warnock in the closely-watched December 6 runoff election, a narrow 51-49 pro-worker majority has been secured in the U.S. Senate. 

While we lost our worker-friendly majority in the House of Representatives, the outcome was much better than many projected it would be before Election Day. Once the new Congress was installed in early 2023, the margin stands currently at 213-222.

It should be noted that over the past century, only three presidents — FDR in 1934, John F. Kennedy in 1962 and George W. Bush in 2002 — finished a midterm cycle with fewer than 10 House losses and zero Senate losses. President Biden will be added to that historical statistic. He has had the most successful midterm cycle of any president in generations. 

Gubernatorial Elections Were Crucial, as Predicted

Last year, voters in 36 states had before them the important task of electing their most powerful state-level leader – their governor. 

The impact of these elections cannot be overstated because nearly 80 percent of America’s total population resides in these 36 states. 

In 16 of those contests, we were fighting to defend a pro-worker, pro-retiree incumbent governor or ensure their seat was not lost to a corporate-backed opponent.

In 15 of those contests, the labor-backed candidate prevailed. Nevada was the only state where we were unsuccessful in protecting an incumbent governor who was our ally, Steve Sisolak.

Further, we held on to key seats in Pennsylvania (Josh Shapiro), Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer) and Wisconsin (Tony Evers).

The remaining 20 states holding gubernatorial elections in 2022 presented a different set of challenges for the labor movement. In these states, we either had to defeat an incumbent governor closely aligned with corporate backers or flip a seat previously held by an anti-worker governor who was not running for reelection because of term limits or other reasons. 

On Election Day, we were successful in three such situations, with labor-backed candidates prevailing in Arizona (Katie Hobbs), Maryland (Wes Moore) and Massachusetts (Maura Healey).

When this new class of governors took office in January, voters in 24 states now have a pro-worker governor.

Notable Shifts in State Legislatures

Labor’s efforts helped to flip the balance of power in four states, securing pro-worker majorities in Michigan’s state House and state Senate for the first time in nearly 40 years, Minnesota’s state House, and Pennsylvania’s state House.

Notably, Pennsylvania and Virginia, which will hold state legislative elections in 2023, will be the only states with split legislatures this year, which means the two state legislative chambers will be controlled by opposite political parties. Other than in 2020 when only Minnesota was split, the last time it was this low was in 1914. 

More Americans Will Have Labor-friendly State-level Governance in 2023

The outcome of 2022’s gubernatorial and state legislative elections will mean that pro-retiree, pro-worker lawmakers are in better shape in state government than at any point since 2010.

In fact, because of how population is distributed across the states, more than 140 million Americans – about 42 percent – reside in states that will be represented by pro-labor trifectas, compared to just 131 million Americans, or 39 percent, who live in states that more business-friendly lawmakers will represent.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222