Orlando Trotman, Sara Cusumano and Mary Ives are upstate New York nursing home workers who understand the connection between quality patient care and electoral politics. Each of them has taken a short leave from their jobs to work as an 1199SEIU member political organizer for the upcoming election.
On Monday through Friday, they have been going door-to-door and making phone calls to help elect Julian Schreibman to Congress in New York’s 19th District, and Angelo Santabarbara to the NYS Assemblyman in the 111th District. Adding to that commitment, the past two Saturday mornings, they have jumped into a van with dozens of 1199SEIU Weekend Warriors and traveled to Keene, New Hampshire to work to re-elect President Obama.
Ives, a certified nursing assistant at the Glendale Home in Schenectady, is a campaign veteran. “I’ve worked on Assembly, Senate and Congressional races in New York before. On Saturdays, I‘ve found it exciting to speak to people in another state, and hear what they have to say about the direction our country should take. By and large, I’ve spoken with Obama supporters in New Hampshire.”
This is Trotman’s first time on the campaign trail. A certified nursing assistant at Guilderland Center Nursing Home, Trotman has 11 grandchildren and is concerned about their future. “I’m so glad to have the opportunity to make an impact on who gets elected. Every time I had to walk up a big hill in New Hampshire, I reminded myself that this entire election is an uphill battle. I’m doing this for my residents, to ensure that nursing homes are adequately funded. And I’m doing this for my grandchildren, because they deserve to live in a world that is fair and just.”
Cusumano, a dietary worker at Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck, is also a member of PurpleGold, the current generation of union members who are 35 years old and under, working to more actively involve younger members in the labor movement. “I love doing this,” she said. “I feel like I’m a small part of something bigger and I want to help the people I talk to get that feeling too. I tell everyone the best way to make your voice heard is to get out and vote. Then, we discuss who the candidates are and how the people that get elected have a big impact on our day-to-day lives- everything from our ability to do our jobs well, to paying our bills.”
Ives added, “Every time I work on elections, I can’t wait to get back to my residents. It’s rewarding when I’m at the nursing home and I know that we’ve elected the candidates who care about the elderly and working people.”