The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee represents thousands of union members from the industrial, commercial, service, construction, and public sectors. In recent years, Tennessee led the nation in the rate of union growth, as our economy rebounded and our affiliates organized workers. This critical election year the CLC is committed to registering, getting out the vote, and informing union members and their families like never before.
This questionnaire is the first step in our endorsement and member education process. It will only be shared with affiliated union representatives who participate in our screening process; it will not be shared with other candidates, media, or any group not affiliated with the CLC. These questions were compiled by a survey of our membership and represent the concerns of affiliates from every industry.
Please return a signed copy of this questionnaire to firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 290153, Nashville, TN 37229 no later than Friday, May 10, 2019.
We look forward to your responses and to working with you to improve the lives of working families in the great state of Tennessee. If you have additional questions, we can be reached at 865-206-6086.
Candidate Name: __________________Jon Sewell_________________________________
Office Sought: ___________________Mayor______________________________________
Campaign Committee Name: ______________n/a__________________________________
Campaign Address: _________________n/a______________________________________
Website Address: _____theCHITshow.com__________________________________________
What if any direct personal or professional experience do you have with organized labor?
___ I have extensive experience with unions. After graduating from graduate school, I felt I needed to supplement my formal education with a more hands-on skills training. I joined the Carpenters Union after a few years working for unscrupulous contractors (both large and small) and enrolled in their apprenticeship program. I rose from apprentice to journeyman to eventually general foreman, running an entire department at a local display shop. When a new opportunity arose, I retired my card (in 2015) and acted for several years on a TV show shot here in town that employed hundreds of union members. As an actor, I joined SAG-AFTRA, and continue to be an active member in the local. ___
As a stakeholder in our community, how will you specifically involve organized labor in your policy making process? Do you support the specific inclusion of an organized labor representation on boards and commissions dealing with issues that affect our members?
___I wholeheartedly support the inclusion of organized labor at the table for important decisions made in this town. As a product of a union apprenticeship program, I understand the value it brings to developing the labor workforce. I also understand the value of including labor representation on board and committee to ensure workers get a fair shake when the odds are typically stacked against them. _____
Do you believe that public & private employees, contingent/temporary workers, and independent contractors employees have a right to collectively bargain for wages, hours, and working conditions?
_____I believe that ALL workers deserve the right to collectively bargain for working conditions. It is a direct consequence of the attack on unions, that wages have stagnated and health and safety problems continue to plague jobsites. Moreover 1099 misclassification had absolutely wrecked the local jobs market, providing nothing but short term gains for general contractors and the developers they have helped enrich. _____
What measures will you take to ensure your office is free from sexual and other types of workplace harassment?
_____ Zero Tolerance Policy. As the son of a single mother who suffered discrimination even in the highly educated medical field, I know that sexual and workplace harassment is a real and prevalent problem. Everyone deserves the opportunity to do their job without having to deal with a bunch of extra BS.____
Nashville has grown rapidly over the last four years. Do you believe income inequality in Nashville has narrowed, remained stable, or grown? Explain.
____ Income equality continues to be one of the major obstacles to stable and sustainable growth. Nashville's prosperity has not been shared and all too often the income from a regressive tax system has been funneled to attract new corporations. Tax giveaways were supposed to be the carrot that brought in more money but 10 years on, its turned out to be close to fraud and possibly class war perpetrated by rich decision-makers who stand to personally benefit. Wages are stagnant for lower tiers and housing is driving the working poor out of town. _____
If elected, what are your top three priorities after taking office?
_____ I'm no leader. I'm running a shoestring campaign that on purpose wants to raise no money. I'm not here to take advantage of people or pretend I have all the answers. Im not giving out empty platitudes. I have roughly no chance of being any sort of competition in this race. If anything I hope I can raise awareness about what I perceive to be rampant Corruption, Hypocrisy, Influence, and Taxes (CHIT). As a result, last year I hoped to raise the issue in a comedic way by telling people that because I backed this platform, and because Im not good at it, not to vote for me. As an actor, I hope to embrace the absurd biz practices of the local “leaders” who have sold us all down river, and thereby expand the political landscape, by exposing the CHIT show. In 2019, an extra focus will be on campaign finance reform whereby a Chit equivalent to the expenses/voter will be issued to let Nashvillians prioritize the political dialog.
Do you support Memorandums of Understanding with public safety and general government employees?
_____ Without a doubt, I believe there should be agreements in place to ensure a consistently well treated workforce, where labor can earn enough in 40 hours to provide for a family.
Based on the experience of outsourcing various metro services over the past decade, do you support further privatization of any metro services?
_____ Outsourcing is a damn scam. It’s a way to sub work out to friends of those in charge, in a veiled nod to efficiency or cost savings, but is really a way to divert funds back to those who need them the least. As a result, the working poor can’t earn enough as prices are driven down and not invested back into working families. Typically employees for these outsourcing contractors receive little to no benefits package and struggle to make ends meet. ____
Do you support continued full funding of the metro employee pension for all public safety and general government employees?
____ Of course. As a vested member of a defined benefit plan myself, I understand its value. Its a promise made and if Metro is in the biz of shortchanging schools and its own labor in order to make sure its subsidies to relocated corporations are honored, then it’s only right to honor its debt to its own citizen workforce. _____
Do you support the current defined benefit structure of the metro employee pension? Would you support a hybrid or 401k system?
____ I am part of a pension plan and know that its not at the whim of the stock market and something my family and I can count on were I ever to see retirement age. Proposing hybrid plans and 401k plans are a way of saying its OK if your family is at the whim of an irrational financial system. _____
Do you believe in creating a dedicated funding stream to support the pay plan’s COLA increases and increments to occur on a consistent basis? If yes, why?
____ If someone says they dont support COLA increases, theyre telling the workers they are OK paying you less in real dollars year after year. Bottom line- inflation reduces purchasing power. If pay does not match inflation, youre getting a pay decrease in effect. ____
Are you committed to passing a budget that includes raises promised to Metro Employees? Do you have a plan to make up the amount of wages they lost due to the broken promises last year?
___I’m definitely committed to raising the pay rates of Metro employees above and beyond what has been promised. As further local economic data become available they poin to an overall trend where rents and living costs continue to increase. I dont have all the answers but one mechanism to investigate would be to tie any decrease in real wages (including not funding a promised COLA increase) to a decrease in commercial payouts, in other words any loss to Metro employees would only occur after a loss in corporate relocation payments. Now, how to get those promised backpay increases will be trickier: as well all know once it stolen its hard to recover, especially if the game reinforces the theft, instead of discouraging that___
There are currently over 1,000 people working at Metro Schools who earn less than $15/hour. Many MNPS employees have to work 2 and 3 jobs to even have a chance to live in the city of Nashville. Do you believe everyone who works in Metro Schools should be paid a salary that allows them to live in Nashville?
_ Without a doubt, I believe there should be agreements in place to ensure a consistently well treated workforce, including a living wage tied to local living expenses (i.e. the local basket of goods and services reasonably required to live and provide opportunity) where labor can earn enough in 40 hours to provide for a family.
Every year, we hear that education is a priority of Metro government, but in practice, MNPS is 19th out of 20 peer cities in per pupil spending. What will you do to ensure we put real investment into public schools?
__Real investment into public schools in the current political environment would probably require as much energy as getting a new corporate headquarters but without the armies of lobbying arts-and-grafts. Its gonna require some cold hard cash injections along with a change in attitude regarding what are the priorities of a growing city.
When considering approval of major construction projects would you support apprenticeship and training participation by the contractor as a factor in its procurement by Metro? Would you sponsor amendments to apply this to projects before Council?
_____ Without a doubt. I am a product of an apprenticeship program! I understand its social value not just its immediate impact of providing skills training. I find it completely befuddling to hear politicians who have railed against unions (a major source of apprenticeship and training programs) then wonder aloud why they don’t have a properly trained workforce- you cant gut the workforce out of greed and then get bitten in the ass by an unqualified workforce and complain about it. Come on, get real. ______
Recent high-profile Metro projects have relied on temporary employment services as the access point for Davidson County residents to construction jobs. These temp services have well-documented records of wage theft and OSHA violations. What steps will you take to keep known bad actors off of publicly funded jobsites? Will you support direct hire on Metro projects?
____ Its theatre: they supported these unscrupulous contractors for a photo op and an anecdote with no real interest in seeing workers improve their stock. These temp services are to the labor force what payday loan sharks are to the checks those men and women got. Its a scam that enriches few at great expense socially and economically for all citizens. I think direct hire would be a great idea. Im not saying I have the answers, but its a fact that union jobsites with properly trained labor result in fewer injuries and more economic impact for working families.. ______
Would you support requiring contractors to hire a standard of local Davidson County workers for publicly funded projects, with transparent reporting available to the public?
_____ Youre damn right- but lets be honest. There is corruption in the system that doesnt want to see a Living Wage. Look, im also out here willing to propose a Maximum Wage- no more gettin rich trying to shortchange everyone. Transparency is key because it holds people accountable. But Corruption is a quick learner- they will find a way to hide their envelope kickbacks. _______
The next ten years will see billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades and other projects by Metro Nashville. How would you support the inclusion of organized building trades and DOL Registered apprenticeship programs in the planning and execution these projects?
______ DOL registered apprenticeship programs and the inclusion or organized building trades is a mechanism to ensure the job is done right. When you get these fast-out training programs like Jimmy Hiller’s “Total Tech” you end up with a farce- youre telling me you can train someone all there is to know about plumbing in 6 weeks? I have seen those crews- its abyssmal. But big contractors like him get far in this town. They got friends in codes, lets be honest. They are members of the BBB (run by biz interests) and loyal citizens of the biz community. But it takes outreach and unfortunately we are learning from recent news stories that it takes death and serious injury for people to start paying attention to bad oversight in health and safety training, not just skills upgrades.________
The restaurant and hospitality industries comprise a large portion of Nashville’s workforce, yet these are often low-wage jobs with little to no job security, and vulnerable to harassment and exploitation. In your opinion, what policies could be put in place to improve conditions for working people in these industries?
_______ The restaurant industry si a tough workplace, often employing marginalized members of our community who fear repercussion for speaking out and cant afford to miss a paycheck no matter how small it is. Improving their conditions would have to be something applied industry-wide through comprehensive enforcement of new workplace regs ro wage minimums.______
What will you do, specifically, to increase the affordable housing stock in Davidson County so that our members can afford to continue living here?
__ Im willing to say the crazy stuff that sits on a pile of economic facts. Like how about asking our corporate neighbors to pay their fair share instead of taking the lions share? Because we know the large corporations moving here do so because our housing stock has typically been cheaper than elsewhere (until recently at least), ti seems only fair to ask them to pay into a fund to alleviate the housing crisis they have inadvertently created. If you break it, you buy it.______
In many cities, to qualify for tax incentives developers are required to agree to workforce standards to give maximum benefit to the impacted community. Currently Nashville’s Industrial Development Board and the Mayor’s office does not use this tool. Will you support Community Benefit Agreements for large tax incentivized projects?
__I dont think anyone will pretend to be shocked that these boards and the Mayor’s office does not use workforce standards. Im sure they will give you a song and dance about “costs”, but at the end of the day the money saved doesnt go back to Metro, it goes to shameless developers who’ could care less about indirect consequences. Any extra money they can siphon out of a truly honest arrangement is self-serving. Community Benefit Agreements are a great tool. Ive been to too many community meetings where developers promise whatever will appease the residents, only to turn around and say “the numbers didn't work out.” A CBA ensures there's no bait-and-switch. These people arent here to build neighborhoods, they're here to build houses at the highest profit margin possible. Make them earn that profit.. _
When raising utility rates, taxes, and fees, what measures will you take to ensure that low-income residents are not unfairly burdened?
___Cost freeze programs are a great option, just as used with property taxes. I would love to learn about other options out there for my own edification. ______
What are your priorities in developing our mass transit system?
_____ Mass transit needs to serve the masses. Somehow that seemed to be lost in the recent debate. I understand the fear people had about building new ways for people to get into neighborhoods and get out quickly- and the creation of transit development nodes where developers get to cash in on metro infrastructure projects. My own perception was that the Mayor took these poor communities for granted and pushed a plan for yuppies, designed to appear like it’s for all. The community stakeholders were not included in a lot of the decision making and so Im not too surprised the house of cards tumbled.____
Signed: ___________________Jon Sewell______________________