by Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 | February 01, 2016
I spend a lot of time driving across Iowa, talking with the 13,000 men and women of our union about the issues that matter most to them, on the job and at their homes. These are the things that keep them up at night — how they’re going to provide for their families, how they’re going to send their children to college without a mountain of debt, and how they’ll save enough to retire with financial peace of mind.
For some politicians these are abstractions, or at least they seem to be because the policies they push are utterly disconnected from the needs of regular folks. For the media that descends on our state every four years, these issues are fodder for soundbites and not much substantive exploration. But for those of us living and working in Iowa, they are with us daily.
It’s why so many AFSCME members in Iowa do what may be incomprehensible to the average citizen in the rest of the country: in below-freezing weather, we give up our early mornings, nights, and weekends to support the presidential candidate who we know really understands how important this fight for our families and our livelihoods is.
In 2016, our candidate for president is Hillary Clinton. Put simply, she gets it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s in Davenport or Des Moines, Cedar Rapids or Muscatine. The members of our union share common values in Iowa and we work together on common concerns. We’re supporting Hillary Clinton in the caucus on Monday because our state and our nation needs a fighter who will stand with us to create jobs, increase the minimum wage, safeguard worker rights, ensure equal pay for equal work, continue the effort to make health care more affordable, and protect pensions.
It’s a concrete need for Chris Weinard, one of the people I talk to on my travels across the state. She’s an AFSCME member in Iowa City whose husband is retired and whose children are eyeing an uncertain job market. “Our household isn’t unique,” Chris tells me. “We have young adult children who are facing a tougher working world than we did at that age. Hillary is the one who can get things done for families like mine.”
This past week, the Des Moines Register agreed, saying, “No other candidate can match the depth of breadth of her knowledge and experience.”
If you talk to Jerry Jones, a corrections officer from Newton, Iowa, he’ll explain what’s motivating him to knock on doors and make phone calls for Hillary Clinton. He first met her a few years back and was impressed by how approachable she was, taking the time to listen to him until she had a complete understanding of the issues he was concerned about.
For Jerry, those issues include concern about the rights of workers. As a corrections officer, his ability to come together with his fellow officers in our union and negotiate for safer staffing levels and proper training and equipment is quite literally a matter of life and death. The next president will likely appoint three if not four Supreme Court justices, and any further tilt toward a right-wing judicial agenda that favors corporations over people will be disastrous.
“Looking at the Supreme Court alone, it really hits me just how high the stakes are,” Jerry says. “Hillary is clearly the most experienced candidate who can win for working people both at the polls and as president.”
And for Patty Erskine of Muscatine, Hillary Clinton’s drive for equal pay for women hits close to home, as does the candidate’s tireless effort to ensure all Americans have access to affordable health care. Erskine’s son is disabled and it’s imperative to her family that his health care coverage isn’t jeopardized by the threats launched at the Affordable Care Act by right-wing presidential candidates.
Patty, Chris, and Jerry certainly aren’t alone in their concerns or their desire to make their voices heard in this presidential election. On Feb. 1, they’ll be caucusing with tens of thousands of other Iowans. After months of work, caucus night is just a final few hours (and for the uninitiated, it’s fun and easy) and it becomes the most important step to propel Hillary Clinton over the finish line in Iowa.
It’s not too late to get involved Monday night. Take a quick visit to our website, WeVoteWeWin.org, to find out where your nearby caucus location is and to see how simple it is to caucus. Then make a plan for the evening; you should be there by 6:30 p.m., regardless of your location.
If you take this step, and take this stand, you’ll wake up on Tuesday morning knowing you’ve made a difference not just for yourself, but for all working families across Iowa.
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