Local 269 Member Ed Hawthorne a Committed Volunteer in Politics

Ed Hawthorne of AFSCME Local 269 (State P-2 Human and Social Services) views political engagement as an absolute necessity for union members in an age of unprecedented legislative and judicial attacks on organized labor.

“Unions are our last best hope to save the middle class,” he said in explaining his commitment to labor-to-labor activities like phone banks and neighborhood canvassing for union-friendly candidates.

Hawthorne is an Appeals Referee at the Connecticut Department of Labor and an Executive Board member of his local union. He became politically active when he graduated from college and became more engaged once he joined the Western Connecticut Area Labor Federation (WCALF).

Hawthorne now chairs the state AFL-CIO’s Western Connecticut Area Labor Coalition, which engages union members in community and political activism throughout greater Waterbury.

“The best way to defeat corporate greed is through collective action,” he says. “Unions will never be able to outspend dark money from conservative organizations, but we can outwork them. Our boots on the ground make a difference.”

When encouraging fellow union members to join him on the campaign trail, Hawthorne reminds them that “our right to collectively bargain is only granted to us through legislation. As we have seen in places like Wisconsin, it can go away in the blink of an eye. Nothing is given to us. We have to fight for it.”

Hawthorne and his fellow Local 269 members are strongly committed to political engagement, telling members, “If you don’t have a seat at the table you’re on the menu.”

Hawthorne understands his union brothers and sisters may be reluctant to volunteer because they fear confrontation. He suggests they begin by making member-to-member phone calls.

He recently was able to recruit seven volunteers to participate in a phone bank organized by the WCALF to help organized labor’s endorsed candidate in the 16th State Senate district, Vicki Nardello.  Many of those union members had not been active before.

Nardello won her primary by a slim margin of 39 votes, proof that union members made the difference.

Political activism gives Hawthorne an opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of working people. “That has always been my true passion,” he says.

When he’s not busy volunteering Hawthorne spends time with his wife, Sarah, and their two young daughters. He also enjoys watching and reading about his beloved Buffalo Bills, Boston Red Sox, and West Ham United.