The Purple Army Is In Full Biden Mode

October 30, 2020

1199ers get out the vote and mobilize for change across the regions.

FullSwing_fa.jpgElection Day is just a few days away, and with its results, the fate of our country and a world already engulfed in chaos—a world that’s literally burning down is some places—as Donald Trump, his allies, and his administration drive the chaos.

1199ers are working hard to undo the damage of the last four years by helping elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the Nov. 3 Presidential Election.

“We just have to win,” says Member Political Organizer Maurice Larry, a mental health tech at Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis, NY. “Since Trump won, everything has been slowly creeping out of the woodwork: the white nationalists, the alt right. I don’t want my grandchildren to see the country this way. I don’t want them to have to experience what’s going on right now. Trump propagates dangerous ideas.”

This year, as in years past, 1199ers—both active and retired— are mobilizing people in innovative ways and in great numbers. Instead of climbing onto buses as “Weekend Warriors,” 1199ers are using digital outreach combined with oldfashioned workplace meetings and voter conversations. 1199 Member Political Organizers (MPOs) and rank-and-file volunteers are talking to hundreds of voters a day through phone, text and on social media. 1199 staff is also participating, putting in an additional 15 to 20 hours per week into outreach calls and texts.

FullSwing_fa2.jpg“I ask a lot of hard questions when I’m talking to people,” says MPO Rae Haynes, an LPN at Pace Loretto Independent Service in Syracuse, NY.

“The younger generation also needs to be aware of how we got where we got. People need to be educated about the history of politics and why we want what we want.

In addition to leading and participating in GOTV activities in their own regions, MPOs and volunteers are reaching out to voters in Georgia, North Carolina and the battleground states of Texas and Florida. 1199’s retirees are playing a central role in this GOTV effort.

Virtual phone banks have been organized in retiree chapters from South Florida to New York State.

They have been central to the effort in turning out votes not just for the presidential election, but also in states that could change the balance of power in the U.S. Senate as well as secure Democratic control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The first president I voted for was John Kennedy, so I have been voting for a very long time and I have never seen anything like this,” says Asiley Jack, a NY-Presbyterian retiree who lives in Moncks Corner, SC. Jack has been doing GOTV work by phone text and with community groups like the NAACP. “With the high cost of food now, a lot of seniors have to choose between food and medication and that is not okay. We have to make sure Biden wins because he is humane and cares about the little people.”

The Union has also been working in coalition with a host of organizations to educate voters and take direct action. Members have been leading voter registration and 2020 Census response drives, as well as participating in endorsement events for progressive, union-backed candidates running in local races.

In New York City on September 21, 1199ers gathered with partners in the new Road To Justice Coalition to announce their first slate of endorsements for next year’s New York City Council races. Road To Justice, which includes 1199SEIU, Make The Road, and Action Community Voices Heard, seeks to ensure that Black and Brown communities are represented in elections and politics, and that racial and economic justice are priorities for all New York City elected officials.

In Florida, 11,000 activists hit the ground running in June and have been organizing voters through the state and working on a host of critical issues, including the restoration of voting rights to citizens returning from incarceration. Restored voting rights could tip the balance in what is arguably the most crucial of battleground states.

The cornerstone of the Union’s multi-pronged campaign is the America For All platform (see page 14), which focuses on immigration, health care, education, labor rights, and the COVID-19 pandemic. A series of America For All online panels, conducted throughout the fall, gave members an opportunity to discuss issues in depth and hear from Union staff and activists in their communities. On September 22, the Maryland/DC Region hosted a “Healthy Schools” panel on Facebook that drew over 1,000 views and featured 1199ers Nathan Luecking, Reeba McKenny, Lewis Gilliam, and Shamoyia Gardner. Moderated by MD/DC Political Director Ricarra Jones, the event discussed everything from the quality of Baltimore’s city schools to student loan forgiveness.

“It was important for me to be on said Gilliam, a University of MD Midtown Certified Central Sterile Tech, who is also a youth mentor.

“One reason is that when I talk to youth, they tell me they are not heard.

Just my having the opportunity to be on and voice some opinions and speak out about some issues I wanted to I jumped at the chance to participate.”

Youth and education issues are also driving the participation of Kimberly Harrington, a Clinical Social Worker with the D.C. Dept. of Behavioral Health. Harrington works in a Capitol Hill middle school and started making calls and writing letters to GOTV for the Biden/Harris ticket in early fall. She’s undeterred by difficult conversations. For Harrington, its about making sure her students have access to resources and programs to keep them safe and healthy.

“It is essential that we vote. It is a dereliction of duty not to vote,” she says. “For me it’s about the likely outcome of a Biden/Harris win versus a Trump win. You can base another four years of Trump on what the last three looked like. It’s crystal clear to me that Biden/Harris will be better for education.”

Rae Haynes says she is going to do everything in her power to get voters to the polls and ensure a Biden/Harris victory.

“If Donald Trump gets back into office, we will all be screwed,” says Haynes. “Everything we value will be under attack. I’m a supporter of women’s rights. I was out there fighting in the streets in the 1960’s.

People really need to understand that if they get out and vote, we can change things.”

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- 1199 Magazine - September / October 2020