Starting back in September, the AFL-CIO began a new initiative to get union members out to the polls to vote their conscience, hopefully for union-backed candidates. The heated races for Governor, Senator, and President make this election year especially important, and with North Carolina’s new status as a “swing state”, the races are closer than ever and could truly go either way at this point.
With NC’s new position as a tier 1 state, meaning that competition is rife on the electoral stage, a large amount of money will be flowing in to fund Candidates, as well as educate, and mobilize voters. Large amounts of outside donated money, PACs and SuperPACs, and 100 Full-time organizers on the AFL-CIO’s behalf are at the forefront of the campaign. Volunteers are doing their part by phone banking, knocking on doors, and having honest conversations. North Carolina AFL-CIO boss MaryBe McMillan stated that the changes “Will help us build a better mobilization structure so that we can hopefully, eventually, change some of the anti-union and anti-worker laws that we have in this state,” The AFL-CIO has also sent a team of lawyers and poll monitors to ensure that polling goes smoothly and swiftly across the state.
Traditionally, The AFL-CIO encouraged only union members to vote, but with the stakes higher than ever, they hope that people who are not union members can be swayed during the campaign. She notes,”We’ve traditionally just done a member-to-member program, so union members calling other union members and knocking on other union members’ doors, and that’s still our primary focus, but because of these additional resources we can also knock on the doors of the general public as well,”
The initiative is also serving another purpose: not just getting folks out to vote, but also building bridges and making friends in a state that is not always union-friendly. McMillan says,”Hopefully by knocking on the general public’s doors, folks will be able to see that union members aren’t these scary thugs and mobsters. We’re their neighbors, we’re the folks that deliver the mail and put out the fires. We’re average, everyday people who are just looking to build better lives for ourselves and our families.”