Every day, rain or shine, the doors of storefront campaign offices across Florida open and close as waves of 1199SEIU caregivers, community organizers and local volunteers come through on their way to and from neighborhood door-knocking, voter registration and phone banking.
Campaign offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Palm Beach are part of the Florida Breakthrough Campaign, a statewide partnership of SEIU and Florida New Majority and the largest grassroots political campaign in the state. The campaign was launched this spring in Tallahassee when 300 Florida New Majority and 1199SEIU members rallied by singing “Whose Side Are they On?” inside the Capitol building as legislators finalized Florida’s budget.
“Every door is a potential voter, volunteer or future activist,” explained Monica Russo, 1199SEIU Executive Vice President to 200 union delegates on September 7. “People are waiting for us to show up at their doorstep or call them on the phone. People are waiting for a nudge, a conversation, maybe a postcard. You don’t have to be an expert on policy. You just have to tell your story about why President Obama is the best choice for working people.” That day, the delegates came together in Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa to lend a hand to the campaign in a day-long assembly that included political training and several hours of volunteer phone banking and door-knocking.
“While canvassing a neighborhood, I saw two men standing in their garage and I asked them about their interests in the election,” said Veyonne Nereus, a CNA at The Parks Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Orlando. “They have some young people in their family who are in school who don’t have health insurance. They want to see their young ones free of debt after college and to benefit from healthcare reform.”
To date, the Florida Breakthrough campaign has:
• Knocked on 118,754 doors;
• Identified 38,491 people who said they would support Obama and
• Recruited 2,300 volunteers.
Since June, members who rallied together in Tallahassee to prioritize the needs of the majority have spent countless hours together to elect lawmakers who stand for good jobs, quality healthcare, quality schools and safe care for seniors, and ensuring that corporations pay their fair share.
“I want a better future for my grandkids. I need to see them get a little more than what I have gotten,” said Armetta Wright, an 1199SEIU delegate at Sanford Health and Rehab and a 2012 Member Political Organizer. “My daughter says, ‘Mom, you go out there hustlin’ and bustling.’ And I say, ‘Yeah, just to make things better for you all. And then when you all can do it, you all need to go out there and hustle and bustle for a better future, too.’”