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Working Americans may disagree on a host of controversial issues, but we are alike when it comes to one important thing: Everyone wants a safe, secure and rewarding life for themselves and their loved ones.

This is what unites us as union members and as citizens. It doesn’t matter if you vote red, blue, purple or green, it is in everyone’s interest to strive for decent wages, affordable health care, safer streets and better schools.

Our union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, cares about the economic future of our members. Our agenda is the agenda of working people — not the elites in the worlds of business and finance.

Unfortunately, those same elites can afford to pay for lobbyists and make huge campaign contributions to get politicians to do their bidding. They use messaging invented by marketing experts to pursue their never-ending quests for tax cuts (in their favor) and to deregulate businesses (so they don’t have to “waste” money on things like safe working environments for their employees). They want to pass laws that weaken unions and make it more difficult to them to recruit new members.

Who will step forward for the rest of us? That’s where unions are playing a crucial role in American politics.

By focusing on every office, from the highest in the land to our local councils and school boards, we gather strength from each other and present a counter-balancing perspective to both our elected leaders and the public.

Whether we like it or not, politics is important. It’s in our best interest to support candidates who stand with us. And when election season is over, it’s in our best interest to encourage our elected officials to support the causes we believe in.

As a union member, you have opportunities to step forward and make a real difference in your community, your state and your country. You can voluntarily support our efforts by

contributing to the UFCW’s Active Ballot Club. You can call and send emails to legislators to support

pro-worker legislation. You can show up for meetings of your city council or school board and then speak up during the “public comment” period. You can volunteer for campaigns for pro-worker candidates.

If you need help finding where you’re most needed, ask your Local 99 union representative. At the very least, be sure you are registered to vote. And when you do vote, vote for pro-worker candidates.

Politics gets a bad rap from some people, but keep in mind there are folks who count on cynicism and

apathy to get their way without opposition. Don’t fall for it!

It’s up to all of us to get educated on the issues and vote for the causes that are truly important to our interests.

Remember that all we’ve sacrificed over many decades to achieve can be wiped out with a stroke of a pen when elections don’t go our way.

The stakes are too high for us to get divided and distracted. We are in this together.