November 07, 2016

Labor's 'feet on the street' march toward Election Day victory

Author: Ned Hoskin
Source: NYSUT Communications
get out the vote in florida
Caption: GETTING OUT THE VOTE IN FLORIDA. (L-R) Deb Peterson, president of NYSUT Retiree Council 43; UFT retiree Jay Teitler; Kathy Taylor, NYSUT ED 13 Director and UFT retiree Anne Marie Nowak work the phone banks at the AFL-CIO union hall as part of the “Working America Get Out The Vote Team” in Florida, on behalf of the AFT. Photo provided.
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pecorale and mossHundreds of NYSUT members have been doing the infantry work for weeks. Thousands of phone calls, knuckles and fingers worn raw from knocking and pushing doorbells … not to mention the shoe leather!

In districts all over the state, and in battleground states such as New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Florida, NYSUT members — both inservice and retirees — are making the difference.

“I think all the tea leaves are pretty good,” said NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale (pictured at right with NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss), who returned home to Long Island just before Election Day after spending two weeks helping campaigns in New Hampshire. 

“Whenever we talked with people, for the most part, they were very supportive of the Hillary campaign. There was no ground game from the Trump people at all. If that is indicative, tomorrow will be a good day for New Hampshire,” he said.

NYSUT does not make endorsements in presidential races, but follows the lead of its national affiliates — the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO — which all endorsed Secretary Clinton for president.

Dozens of NYSUT volunteers went on the road for two weeks or more to provide the people power promised when a union backs a candidate. A lot of that work entails labor walks, stuffing packets, going to rallies, leafleting and phone banking. On Monday, Election Day eve, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee worked the phones with volunteers at the United Federation of Teachers headquarters in lower Manhattan.

In New Hampshire much of the conversation was about the close races for governor and U.S. Senate, Pecorale said. “The Senate race is very tight,” he said. “We’ve just got to get people out to vote.”

Central New York retiree activist Margo Buckingham said a busload of activists rode to the Scranton AFSCME headquarters to canvass in neighborhoods for Clinton and Katie McGinty, U.S. Senate challenger who is endorsed by AFT. The bus from Syracuse stopped in Cortland, Whitney Point and Binghamton to pick up canvassers representing various K-12 locals, retiree councils and UUP campuses.

The effort “was very well organized and the people there were very enthusiastic. We’re more than hopeful,” Buckingham said.

Polls in New York State are open today until 9 p.m.