Florida Members Call on Presidential Candidates to Make Worker Issues a Priority in the 2020 Election

December 26, 2019

Unions for All Summit, LA 10-3-19 400 x 313.jpgAt town halls, summits and on social media, 1199SEIU Florida members are making their voices heard in the next Presidential election. At various events across the country, many of these politically savvy healthcare workers have met face to face and stood elbow to elbow with key leaders including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and a host of other candidates who could shape the future of our nation for years to come. Members have been using these unique opportunities to make it clear to the candidates that in order to win their support they must address the following key issues: unions for all, universal access to quality, affordable healthcare, keep immigrant families together and safe and bold action on climate change.

These and other key issues were addressed at a tele-town hall with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in November. The Senator took questions from members and laid out his plans to provide Medicare for All, tuition free college, affordable housing and other critical issues that impact working families.

Many of the other frontrunners in the Democratic Presidential Primary race addressed hundreds of SEIU members and fast food workers from across the country at the Unions For All Summit in October in Los Angeles. The goal of the three-day event hosted by SEIU was to ensure worker voices were heard and their issues were addressed by the presidential candidates.

“Knowledge is power, and we certainly learned a lot at this summit,” said Eva Nolasco, a CNA and endo technician at Fawcett Memorial Hospital. “I really enjoyed an educational program that taught us about the history of SEIU, landmark legal victories and influential leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was a key supporter of 1199SEIU.”

Nolasco was among a group of 1199SEIU Florida member political organizers who attended the summit. One of the keynote speakers, Mary Kay Henry, the president of SEIU, challenged all of the workers to take the knowledge they gained at the summit and share it with their coworkers, family and friends to help build excitement and boost voter turnout in this critical election.

Eight candidates, including several who have recently dropped out of the race, spoke at the summit and took questions from workers on a variety of issues including healthcare, climate change and union rights. They included Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro and Amy Klobuchar.

Nolasco said the candidates that stood out to her are the ones who shared their personal story and the challenges they faced because she could relate to them. “A lot of them had similar experiences in their background. Some of them have union families so they understand what a union means,” said Nolasco.

 “They are willing to unite with us to help us fight,” said Sophia Colley, a CNA at Titusville Rehab Nursing Center.  “I want to fight for gun control, my family, healthcare and prison reform.”

Workers are also using social media to express their thoughts about the candidates and the issues that matter to them during debates and throughout the election season. Via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, workers are posting photos, comments and news articles to stay informed and engaged as the race starts to take shape with fewer candidates left vying for the Democratic nomination.