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Harris urges union members to vote, show their power

Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at IBEW Local 58 on October 25, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
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“I want to thank all the men and women of labor for all you do,” Sen. Kamala Harris told union members in a joint AFSCME-AFT tele-town hall Thursday night. “You are holding it down and holding it up all at once.”

Harris joined AFSCME President Lee Saunders and AFT President Randi Weingarten to speak to thousands of AFSCME and AFT listeners, expressing words of gratitude for the efforts of front-line heroes who have continued to serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also discussed what union members can do in the final days of the campaign to bring home a win.

“All working people have been suffering so horribly these last several months, under an administration that has failed to understand the dignity of work,” said the California senator and running mate of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Harris described how our country is in the midst of at least four major crises: the pandemic, a recession in which millions cannot pay housing costs, the attempted dismantling of the Affordable Care Act by President Donald Trump, and a hunger crisis caused by the pandemic.

These crises and others make the choice for the steady, calm, seasoned leadership of the Biden-Harris ticket even more urgent.

The way to change the direction of this country, Harris said, is to vote and to mobilize others to vote.

“They know our power. They know when we vote, things change,” Harris said. “We are not going to let anyone feel small or alone. That’s the strength of organized labor. We’ve got five days to express the power of our voice through our vote and change the course of our county.”

Harris promised that Biden will be “one of the greatest pro-labor presidents we’ve had.”

Saunders also urged union members to use their votes to express outrage at an administration and a Senate majority that has left our towns and cities to “bleed red ink,” leaving public service workers out to dry by refusing to pass a COVID-19 stimulus bill over the last several months.

“It’s time to do what we do best. It’s time to raise our voice and show our power,” Saunders said.  “It’s time to flex our grassroots political muscle. It’s time to take ownership of our future. It’s time to mobilize in overwhelming numbers for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and pro-worker candidates up and down the ballot.”

To do that, Saunders said, you can visit AFSCME.org/vote to make a voting plan. And to participate in get-out-the-vote activities, you can visit AFSCME’s Virtual Field Offices at AFSCME.org/VFO.

Weingarten spotlighted how Trump’s failure in handling the pandemic has damaged one of the foundations of American life: education.

“Our schools lack the resources and guidance to ensure our kids get educated yet remain safe,” Weingarten said. “They seem to just think regular people – nurses or teachers or sanitation workers – are all just expendable.”

Weingarten also emphasized the importance of voting.

“If we don’t vote, we don’t win,” she said. “We need a decisive win on Nov. 3, so we will have Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as our vice president.”

Listen to the call

Hear the audio from the October 29 tele-town hall:

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