The Owensboro Convention Center was packed with hundreds of local union workers, families, public education faculty and staff, as well as political candidates, on Saturday, Sept. 22 for the Remember in November rally. People gathered to show support for candidates running in the upcoming Nov. 6th election and to hear Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat running for governor in the 2019 election, speak on behalf of the working people.
Jeff Wiggins, Secretary of Treasury at the Kentucky State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) says his attendance at the rally comes in support of working families across Kentucky.
“It’s time for working families to take back Kentucky. We’re tired of the rich being the elite,” Wiggins said.
Andy Beshear’s running mate, Jacqueline Coleman, was attending the rally alongside Beshear to show support for unions and teachers alike.
“He and I came out to show support for Kentucky’s working families. All of the labor unions and, of course, the teachers because I’m a teacher,” Coleman says. “I have been in the school system my entire professional career, so about 12 years.”
Beshear feels that unions and teachers are gaining ground when it comes to making their voices heard regarding pensions and, generally, better treatment from current state officials who’ve notoriously disregarded teachers and unions for standing up for their workers’ rights.
“We’re seeing these events all over the state right now,” Beshear says of the rallies. “More people are coming to events like these than ever before. The energy level is so high in this room right now. People are getting excited for this election, which is great.”
Emcee Larry Sanderson, a retired UA international representative, says workers need to stand together as one when it comes to fighting the system.
“I’ll tell you ‘til they throw dirt in my face — I’m going to have the union right here in my heart,” Sanderson said. “We’re one big house of labor. When we are attacked, we form a symbol. We stand up, and we fight back.”
Bill Londrigan, President of Kentucky State AFL-CIO, stood up in agreement.
“We’re fighting for our schools, wages and pensions,” Londrigan said. “We fought then [12 years before, when Ernie Fletcher was the Kentucky Gov.], and we still fight today for what is right.”
Londrigan said the loss of 17 pro-union seats in 2016 has added to the stress of the hardworking people of the state.
“[The year] 2018 ended up being another battle for the soul of Kentucky and, guess what–a lot of Kentucky lost,” Londrigan said. “The attacks on public pensions, the attacks on our teachers, the attacks on workers compensation and employee benefits. Attacks on education funding, attacks on health care, where our governor proposed to restrict tens of thousands of Kentucky workers and families of the hard-working health care they so deserve. Everything is on the table under this current control.”
Beshear said Kentucky is most definitely at a war with current government officials based on the state’s values, identity and future, adding that everything is on the line for hardworking Kentuckians.
“You hear lots of people, every election, say ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime.’ Does anybody now think these next series of elections are the most important elections of our lifetimes?” said Beshear to the crowd, who stood and clapped.
He mentioned Bevin illegally cutting budgets for public universities and community college, and Bevin’s actions that led to putting one of Kentucky’s universities accreditation on probation, threatening every dollar of federal financial aid, and threatening each college student across the state.
“But every morning, I rolled out of bed and prepared for battle, and I stepped to the front lines because Kentucky is worth fighting for,” Beshear said.