Greetings from Cleveland!
I’m in this battleground state to help my brothers and sisters in Ohio labor unions get out the vote. My 9:30 a.m. flight landed a half-hour early due to winds going the opposite way they usually blow thanks to Sandy. My heart is back in New York watching the impact of Superstorm Sandy. Her wrath reached to the Midwest too. Here in Cleveland, many parts of the city are without power (including where I was supposed to be working today) roads and schools are closed.
Thanks to Twitter, I kept up with a lot of the news. I found comfort in this statement from Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO:
We’re hopeful that preparations will prove unnecessary, but we have peace of mind knowing that union workers–public sector, private sector and building trades–will be there for us: supermarket and retail workers making sure that supplies are available; utility and communication workers laboring day and night to keep the lights and phones on; police officers, firefighters and EMS professionals maintaining our safety; transportation workers preserving our subway, commuter rail and bus infrastructure; state, county and municipal employees keeping the roads clear; construction workers repairing our homes, businesses and communities; hospital workers providing care to our family, friends and neighbors; teachers and child care workers keeping our children safe until we can be with them; and hotel workers making sure there is a place to stay for those who cannot remain home.
Their work and the work of others will get our communities back up and running.
For proof of that consider what the NYSUT Syracuse Regional Leadership Conference did this weekend. Local unions gathered items to sell to the highest bidder. They raised a record $3,607! All proceeds will go to disaster relief. Thanks to local presidents Paul Farfaglia, Beth Chetney and Mike Emmi for organizing this.
I’ve got limited Internet, so I won’t have the usual links here, but folks, please comment on the blog about any locals who are running shelters, or collecting supplies, or need help or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with what you need. It’s one way we can all stay connected.
This trip to Cleveland is a repeat labor of love. Four years ago I volunteered for the AFL-CIO in Dayton. I wanted Ohio because the news reports that showed the long lines of folks waiting to vote on election night in 2004 made a huge impact on me, and others. You may recall that because thousands were unable to vote in that election, the early voting process started in this, and other, states.
I’ve never had to wait to vote. But four years ago, working in Dayton, it seemed nearly every one I met said they were voting early because they weren’t able to vote in 2004. People said they weren’t able to vote because the lines were too long early in the morning and they could not afford to miss work. Or they tried to vote after work, and lines were longer still.
I was appalled when some tried to stop the early voting effort. It took the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that early voting could continue. Here in Ohio, many are voting early, but those efforts will be hampered by this weather.
Knowing what some go through to vote, and knowing this weather might impact your community, your workplace and your family, please make sure you know where you go to vote.
Click here if you live in New York City. Click here if you live anywhere else in the state to get to your county Board of Elections. Call (800) 367-8683 if you have any questions.