Guest view: AFL-CIO endorses Cooney, Schreiner

The Montana AFL-CIO’s decision to endorse Mike Cooney for governor and Casey Schreiner for lieutenant governor was made after careful consideration of all candidates involved in the race. Ultimately, it was two resumes teeming with support of pro-worker issues that led us to believe they are the best individuals to lead the state of Montana into the new decade.

Mike Cooney is no stranger to the Montana labor movement. Growing up in Butte, he saw how it drastically improved the lives of his friends and neighbors and it clearly shaped his career in public service. Cooney knows that the working people of this state getting the treatment they deserve comes through our right to collectively bargain. Every official office Cooney has held, he has acted in the best interest of workers.

While serving as secretary of state, Cooney reshaped the office, making it more about fair access to elections so workers could make their voices heard at the polls. His time in the Montana Legislature saw him support pro-worker legislation and push back against right-to-work laws which worsen benefits and lower wages for every worker in the state, both union and non-union. He continued on this path as lieutenant governor using his platform to speak out against mistreatment of workers like the lockout of Boilermakers D-239 members in Three Forks.

His decision to have a card-carrying trade unionist as his running mate only further emphasizes his belief that workers are the backbone of Montana’s economy. Cooney knows better than anyone that his second-in-command not only needs to be ready to step up at a moment’s notice but that they also have to have a deep understanding of the issues driving the office’s agenda. It would be very difficult finding someone who fits that description better than Casey Schreiner.

Schreiner understands the issues working people face better than other politicians because he’s lived through them. Growing up in a union household, Schreiner has personally seen the power of collective bargaining throughout his life. When he started his career as a teacher, he dealt with budget cuts and layoffs while he was starting his family. His union lifting him up during this time turned him into one of the fiercest advocates for the labor movement in the legislature. As House minority leader, he worked to make his caucus more pro-worker as well.

The Cooney-Schreiner ticket earned our endorsement not through a short interview process but rather a lifetime of work on behalf of working people. They have been here fighting the fight and dedicating their lives to making Montana a better place. They have stood by our side when we needed them and now the Montana AFL-CIO is proud to stand with them.