APRIL 7th Wisconsin’s Presidential primary election

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
A Division of the Rail Conference–International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Jason R. Liimatta
Legislative Representative
Division 188

April 1st, 2020

Brothers and Sisters,

Election season 2020 is upon us in the great state of Wisconsin. In spite of the COVID-19
pandemic gripping the country, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has vowed to hold Wisconsin’s
Presidential primary election as scheduled on Tuesday, April 7th. Safeguards have been put in place by
election officials statewide to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this election, and its extremely
important that we take this opportunity to change the direction that both the state of Wisconsin and
America are traveling by exercising our constitutional right to vote. There are two important elections
on next Tuesday’s ballot

At the top of the ballot is the presidential primary. Incumbent President Donald J. Trump is running unopposed on the Republican side, while both former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator
Bernie Sanders are both vying to be the Democratic nominee. President Trump has undertaken many
actions to undermine both rail labor and organized labor in general. Two examples of this are his
decision to appoint Mr. Ronald Batory as the current administrator of the Federal Railroad
Administration, and to appoint far-right conservative judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the
United States Supreme Court. Mr. Batory is the former president and chief operating officer for
CONRAIL who last year withdrew the FRA’s 2016 notice-for-proposed-rulemaking that called for federal
regulation of train crew staffing. In addition to this decision, Batory has also attempted to nullify all
state laws and regulations that establish minimum crew size standards. Justice Gorsuch was the
deciding vote in Janus vs AFSCME Council 31, which was a landmark US labor law supreme court case
which determined that public employees who refuse to join the labor union representing their shop
cannot be compelled to pay union dues or maintenance fees. Public-sector union officials have
predicted they will eventually lose 10-30 percent of their members and several million dollars in revenue
because of this decision. Both Vice President Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders have vowed to stop the
attacks on public and private sector unions if elected president, and would be a big improvement over
the current occupant of the white house.

The other race on the April 7th ballot is for a seat on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. Incumbent
justice Daniel Kelly faces Jill Karofsky for a ten-year term on Wisconsin’s highest court. Kelly, was  appointed to the court in 2016 by former governor Scott Walker when former Justice David Prosser
retired in 2016. Walker is rabidly ant-union, and while governor he stripped all public employees other
than those working in public safety of their right to be represented by a labor union while also passing
right-to-work legislation in 2015. Kelly, who was a former legal counsel for Walker before being
appointed to Wisconsin’s high court is cut from the same cloth as his former boss when it comes to
organized labor and middle-class issues. Jill Karofsky on the other hand has been endorsed in this race
by the Wisconsin AFL-CO, Teamsters Joint Council 39 and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers &
Trainmen and will be an ally of both labor and the working-class if elected.

April 7th is only the beginning of what will be a long election season in Wisconsin, yet it’s very
important that we take all necessary precautions against COVID-19 and make sure our voice is heard
next Tuesday whether voting in-person, early or by absentee ballot. Stay safe everyone.

Jason R Liimatta                                                                                                    Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
Division #188
Legislative Representative
Division Trustee

There’s a direct relationship between the ballot box and the bread box, and what the union fights for
and wins at the bargaining table can be taken away in the legislative halls.
President Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers, 1970