Everyone Needs to Get Involved Between Now and November

August 27, 2020

Member Political Organizers (MPOs) use new tools to foster community involvement.

SandraDiaz.jpgCOVID-19 has changed every aspect of our lives, and our political activism is no different. 1199ers are more than prepared to pivot and embrace new methods of communicating, mobilizing, and organizing to help elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

In addition to saving the country from a pandemic, Union members have been building 1199’s GOTV arsenal. Central are social media, phone banking, a robust vote-bymail campaign, and recruitment of Member Political Organizers (MPOs). This year’s MPOs will lead a new, institution- and communitybased program to engage members where they live and work. MPOs and members will work together to lift workers’ voices around local issues and broaden local power bases.

Together with allies and coalition partners, 1199 activists will build networks to grow worker power nationally and beyond November.

Florida Region MPOs hit the ground running in June with a virtual campaign kickoff that drew an unprecedented 11,000 activists. As part of the powerhouse coalition Florida For All, recruits will use a host of tools to build community and excitement around the election. Using 1199’s America For All platform as a jumping off point, voters’ personal stories will help drive the campaign. Organizers will use social media and text to have conversation and build connection. Voters are encouraged to talk to family and friends, help them register friends, and talk about the issues with people in their networks. In Upstate New York and Maryland/DC, activists are reaching as many as 20,000 members at a time using Purple Spoke, the union’s texting program.

In Baltimore, Delegate Reeba McKinney, a CNA at the Greenhouse in Baltimore, worked recently on the campaign of Councilman Brandon Scott, Democratic nominee for Baltimore Mayor. “We organized virtual rallies and called members to talk to them about their concerns. We talked with community members to really get the voice of the people out there,” she says.

Though she’s energized by Scott’s campaign, McKinney is anxious about November.

“It’s been very difficult here in Baltimore,” she says. “So many people have lost jobs and family members in COVID. School closings have really changed the dynamic at home for many people. It’s like people don’t know what to expect. I try to remind them that they have the power to stabilize things with their vote.”

“Making sure people vote is going to be critically important this year, whether it’s vote by mail or getting to the polls,” she says. “My biggest fear is that people will feel their votes don’t count. I do everything I can to discourage that.”

Political activism brought new vigor to the work of Sandra Diaz, a home health aide with New York City’s Premier Agency. This spring and summer, Diaz worked on several campaigns, including on efforts to protect Medicaid and pass the CARES Act, and Michael Blake’s congressional race in her home borough of the Bronx.

Diaz, a freshman MPO, says politically mobilized homecare workers have more power, something they need more than ever. “Homecare workers are at the bottom of the ladder,” she says. “That’s why I have such passion for this work.”

Diaz also learned practical skills, including data, phone bank, and project management; she also polished her social media and public speaking skills.

“This work is important and empowering,” she says. “I have a passion for it, but everyone needs to get involved somehow between now and [November]. We have to get our message of America For All out there and activate every community.”

1199 Magazine | July / August 2020