Over 130 union workers, union leaders, community supporters, and elected officials converged at NoVA Area Labor Federation headquarters in Annandale early Saturday to encourage union households to vote for President Barack Obama and U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Tim Kaine.
The morning’s speakers included former Michigan Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm; James Boland, president of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC); and Augusta Thomas, national vice president for women and fair practices of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
“I’m so grateful that you are here in the epicenter of the national campaign,” Granholm told the gathering. “The question for us I think is so important is, Who are we as a country? Are we a nation that is going to allow a hands-off approach to people and to our economy?”
To drive home her point, Granholm addressed a middle-aged woman in the group: “In your family, you’re not gonna let your mother or your grandmother go without healthcare, right?”
And referring to the 10-year-old granddaughter of a hotel worker and UNITEHERE! Local 25 member present in the room, Granholm said, “We’re not gonna let her go without great education. We’re not gonna let her go without food in [her] family, right?”
As part of her speech, AFGE vice president Thomas shared a story about an event that took place in February 1960 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Thomas joined a group of 16-year-old black college students attempting to have a drink at a segregated lunch counter, she said.
“I went down and sit so you all could stand,” the 80-year-old labor leader told the room. “Now, at my age, I’m gonna walk. And if I walk, you all can too.”
At around 9:45 a.m., volunteers with 22 different unions, as well as a couple of Maryland elected officials and their teams, took to the neighborhoods of Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun Counties. Among the most heavily represented unions Saturday were the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFGE, and the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).
When asked why he’s voting in the upcoming elections, Barry Weinstein, member of the local AFT affiliate Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, said:
Everything’s on the line. We’re talking about drastic overhaul of Social Security, drastic overhaul of Medicare. I can’t think of anything scarier than to turn our country over to Representative Ryan or Romney, venture capitalist. Not the way to run a country.
Jennifer Granholm explains what she saw on her TV show: The War Room: