The United Steelworkers union was behind an unexpected weekend light display against the backdrop of the Trump International Hotel & Tower: a Biden/ Harris logo.
Jess Kamm Broomell, a spokeswoman for the United Steelworkers union that represents about 850,000 current and past members in numerous industries — not just steel — in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean, said the “bat light” as they call it, has been making the rounds in beautiful locations and provocative places for about six weeks now.
“This was always meant to be fun, it was meant to get some conversations going, to literally spotlight how important this election is, how important it is to make a plan to vote, what some of the issues are that are on the ballot this year, what’s at stake,” she said during a phone interview Sunday morning. “It’s sort of taken on a life of its own.”
Union representatives recently have traveled from Pennsylvania to Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. In each location, they meet with rank-and-file members and at night, display the bat light, which, she said is a fun name that predates this political cycle and has been used for other union campaigns.
“In this election, I mean voting is a heroic act, right? ... We’ve been trying to make that connection too. That everybody can be a hero and everyone has a role to play, everybody has a responsibility and we’re sort of lighting up the sky to do that," she said.
Attempts to reach a representative of the building and the Trump organization were not immediately successful on Sunday.
Kamm Broomell said the union has always been politically active long before the presidential election campaign neared its home stretch.
“A lot of what we do as a union on behalf of our workers, such as bargaining and labor agreements can be really impacted by who’s in Washington, who is controlling the National Labor Relations Board and appointing the people who are overseeing a lot of the decisions, that has a big impact on us,” she said.
The bat light has been traveling with a small group of union representatives who are based in Pittsburgh. While in Chicago this weekend, the light could be seen projected on Wrigley Field. In Wisconsin recently, it was visible on the outside of Lambeau Field, home to the Green Bay Packers. In Pittsburgh it was shone on Mount Washington and on Terminal Tower in Cleveland, she said.
“We would normally be out talking to people in person,” she said. Since that hasn’t been possible amid the coronavirus pandemic, she said the union has been looking for “other creative ways to reach people.”
Members, including about 50,000 health care workers, were surveyed about a year ago to find out what issues of the day they were most concerned about, and health care topped the list, she said. Given President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which thus far has been unsuccessful, it makes sense union leaders now support Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s ticket with running mate Sen. Kamala Harris.
Kamm Broomell said the organization has tried to find locations that are either “notable” tourist draws or "picturesque, beautiful, or unique parts of the landscape or cityscape.”
“We’re just looking for places that really spotlight the significance of the election," she said. "And what does that more so than a Trump hotel?”
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