by Clyde Weiss | June 04, 2012
Paul Spink, a member of Local 2748 (AFSCME Council 24), wants his five-month old son to grow up in a Wisconsin he can be proud of. (Photo by Alex Jones)
Paul Spink, a certified social worker in Milwaukee, has a five-month old son. He wants to make sure the boy grows up in a Wisconsin he can be proud of. “If that disappears, what are my options?” he asks.
“My great grandparents immigrated to Wisconsin. My family has been here for a long time, and I don’t want to have to leave for my son to have the opportunities that I’ve had," Spink says.
That’s just part of what motivates this 36-year-old state licensing specialist, who monitors child care centers, to get out the vote to elect Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as governor. A member of Local 2748 (AFSCME Council 24), he’s been working to get out the vote to recall Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday because of his determination to restore collective bargaining in the Badger state.
Spink is active in his union. He’s a steward for his local, its membership secretary and also sits on the union’s executive board. He even serves on his council’s political action committee, and is a member of the Next Wave Advisory Committee of young AFSCME leaders.
“I represent a lot of people doing a lot of dangerous work, and if they don’t have a voice on the job, somebody’s going to get hurt,” he explains. “I’m a social worker by training. I got into my career because I wanted to help people. Then I realized I could help even more people by making sure that other social workers could do their jobs safely. But nobody’s listening to us if we don’t have AFSCME behind us.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that he’s contacted about many friends through text messaging to encourage them to vote. Through the Web and Facebook, he’s made that appeal to hundreds more. He’s also knocked on “a couple of hundred doors and reached out to just about everybody I could find electronically and personally to get out the vote.”
But it's making face-to-face contact with neighbors that’s most important in this election, he says.
“I live in a very blue collar neighborhood with a lot of people who have never voted,” he said. “One of my next door neighbors is 43 and he’s never voted in his life. I talked him into voting tomorrow." He did that by focusing on how Walker's budget slashes school services. It hit home with the man, who has five children, including three with special needs.
Such face-to-face contact is critical, Spink says.
“They can see that you care, and if it matters enough for you to be out in the street, they might realize, ‘Hey, this guy who looks a lot like me and talks like me cares enough about this issue to knock on my door and talk to me about it. Maybe there’s something to it.’”