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PEP Nov 2016
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Public Employee Press


Election 2016
Activists campaign with national unions

"There's too much at stake in this election, like our pensions and our collective bargaining rights."
— Vanessa Tirado Local 154


By ALFREDO ALVARADO



Members are set to head back to New York CIty after canvassing in Philadelphia.

NATIONAL polls are showing Hillary Clinton pulling away in her race for the White House by as many as a dozen points. But the former secretary of state and her union supporters are taking nothing for granted. Clinton continues to reach out to voters in the battleground states of Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania. Her union supporters are mobilizing thousands of members for rallies and door-to-door canvasing in Philadelphia to make sure Clinton wins Pennsylvania.

Lee Saunders, president of DC 37's national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, joined Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the 3 million-member strong National Education Association and leaders of the Service Employees International Union in West Philadelphia for a weekend get-out-the-vote push on Oct. 15. The unions are also backing the challenger Katie McGinty in her race against Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

"I looked at people dead in the eye and told them about the importance of this election," said Saunders in Philadelphia.

The following Saturday, two bus loads of activists from District Council 37 left their union headquarters in lower Manhattan in the early morning and headed for Philadelphia for a day of knocking on doors to make sure everyone gets to the polls on Nov. 8.


Union volunteers campaigned for
Hillary Clinton in the West Oak Lane
neigborhood of North Philadelphia.

After two hours on the road, the buses pulled into the parking lot of the Working America headquarters on Germantown Avenue. Working America is a group of activists affiliated with the AFL-CIO and has been busy coordinating canvasing efforts throughout the city in support of Clinton and McGinty.

DC 37 Political Action Director Jeremy John handed out assignments and volunteers picked up their campaign literature and ponchos to protect them against the steady drizzle. The union activists then paired off and were taken in vans to their assigned neighborhoods.

Retiree Enovia Bedford went door-to-door in West Oak Lane in North Philadelphia, a community of private two-story homes. Several homes in the neighborhood had Clinton-Kaine placards on their lawns and Bedford came across some residents who had already voted. "That's a good sign," she said.

Vanessa Tirado, a member of Local 154, also made the trip. Tirado, a Claims Examiner who works in the Office of the New York City Comptroller, lives in Orange County and commutes two hours every day to her job in the city. But the two-hour commute from her home to Manhattan and then a two-hour bus trip to Philadelphia on a rainy Saturday morning didn't faze the Bronx native.

"There's too much at stake, like our pensions and our collective bargaining rights," said Tirado.

Tracy Reynolds, a member of Michigan Local 2950, Council 25, knows better than most what's at stake in this election. Her father drove a bus in Detroit for 25 years before retiring.

"My father was promised health care for all his years of service," Reynolds said. "And they just took it away in the name of bankruptcy. Hillary Clinton will protect our pensions."

No presidential candidate has moved into the White House without winning Ohio and polls show Clinton running even there with her Republican opponent.

Clinton can count on Carolyn Milhoan, from Ohio Local 1252, Council 8. Milhoan has been encouraging her coworkers to support the Democratic candidate. "Hillary will fight for increased wages, paid family leave and earned sick days," she said.

Economic issues are also a concern of Linda Wise, from Local 1224, Council 13, in Pennsylvania. She supports Clinton's plan for free college tuition for students from families making less than $125,000 who attend public universities.

"She knows the cost of college right now is astronomical," said Wise. "Lots of students live with their parents because they can't afford to move away."

DC 37 will make one more trip to Philadelphia on Saturday, Nov. 5.



















 
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