Dear workers of Missoula:

Many of you may have heard about the recent attack mailers that were sent to voters in wards 2, 5 and 6 for the Missoula City Council race. These mailers targeted candidates endorsed by your Missoula Area Central Labor Council.

The Missoula Area Central Labor Council is comprised of union leaders and members from building trades, the university faculty, medical support personnel, firefighters, postal workers and teachers. We represent a wide variety of people who work for their income (rather than inherit or receive money from other people’s labor) in Missoula.

Our first responsibility is to serve our members and their interests. Our second responsibility is to be a voice for all working people in the Missoula area, whether they are able to be represented by a union or not. This means we survey our members for opinions and ask questions of candidates about how they will deal with working class issues if they are elected.

The Montana State AFL-CIO, with whom we work closely, again passed a resolution in June specifically denouncing a sales tax. Labor organizations in Montana do not support a sales tax — nor would we support candidates who supported a sales tax. One of the questions on our endorsement form dealt specifically with this issue and we made sure to vet the candidates' opinions about how a local option tax would work, to make sure that it wasn’t regressive and lowered the overall tax burden on everyday families in Missoula. The statement in the mailers that these three candidates support a sales tax, or increased taxes, is an outright lie that should not be believed.

There has been no discussion of road diets with the candidates, but we did ask the candidates to weigh in on infrastructure development, apprenticeship programs, responsible bidding practices and affordable housing developments. All of our endorsed candidates are supportive of these job-creating opportunities and making sure that as development happens, that it provides jobs and opportunities that advance our community — and that the people building the houses can afford to live in them and the people working on our infrastructure can afford to live in our city. They showed educated and nuanced views of the challenges of helping lead the city in Montana with the most job growth in the state and are committed to doing what they can to make sure that those jobs are not poverty-level jobs, but career path opportunities.

These fliers were an ugly representation of a reality we see every day in the labor movement: A few wealthy individuals attempting to have an outsize influence on our elections. The wealthy elite is used to believing their money can buy their way, but we urge you to recognize these lies and vote for the candidates we have endorsed who are actually concerned about the good working folks of Missoula: Heidi West, Amber Sherrill, Mirtha Beccera, Gwen Jones, Alex Fregerio and Nick Shontz.

Vote like your job depends on it.

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Derek Hitt is president of the Missoula Area Central Labor Council.

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