By Stephanie Grant
On Saturday, October 15, in the parking lot in the 4800 block of Ludlow Street in west Philadelphia, AFSCME, PFT and other union members and leaders, as well as elected officials gathered to prepare for canvassing and get out the vote activities.
“I’m here to really energize my members and members that came from across the three county area to encourage people to vote for Hilary Clinton and Katie McGinty,” DC 47 President Fred Wrght said. This sentiment was echoed by many at the rally. An example of just how important the state of Pennsylvania is to securing the White House for Hillary Clinton was highlighted by the presence of AFSCME International President Lee Saunders.
“We’ve got to carry the urban areas in the state. We’ve got to carry Philadelphia and the surrounding areas so the importance of this is getting the people out to vote. Educating and mobilizing and organizing our community so that people understand the importance of this election, that there is really a true choice, and there’s a real difference between candidates,” AFSCME International President Lee Saunders said.
Saunders pointed out those differences. “On one hand you have a candidate who stands up for working people, who stands up for the middle class, who believes in the kinds of issues that we believe in, who supports the middle class, and that’s Hilary Clinton. The other candidate has no class, has no class whatsoever. And is dangerous. He is dangerous to our communities. He’s dangerous for this country.”
When pressed on which communities he was referring to, Saunders responded, “I’m talking about the African-American community, I’m talking about communities of color. I’m talking about the entire country. But he’s targeting, his rhetoric targets in on specific people, on people of color, on immigrants, on folks with disabilities, on POW’s, on Gold star families. … I mean his hatred spans the spectrum.”
Saunders added, “We cannot afford to have him in the White House, and we aren’t going to have him go to the White House. We’re gonna win in Pa.”
“I’m just coming from Ohio. I feel real good about what’s going on in Ohio. It’s turning around there and I think people are finally getting excited, they’re seeing what reality really is closer to the election, and we’re gonna get our folks out and we’re going to win in November,” Saunders said.
When asked about the so-called enthusiasm gap between Clinton supporters vs. Trump supporters, Saunders feels the tide is changing. “I think it is diminishing. I was concerned at one time, but we just start doing what we do best. And AFSCME, my union, and other unions and our community partners, our coalition partners, we’re throwing away those iphones and we’re getting rid of those ipads and were knocking on doors and making those phone calls. We’re looking people dead in the eye and we’re telling them how important this election is.”
Local members of AFSCME had been involved in voter registration activities and are now working to help get out the vote for the November 8 general election.