9:25 AM - November 7, 2012
Volunteers made the difference
Members & staff defeated billionaire blitz
Local 1000’s success at the polls on Nov. 6 came down to one thing: Volunteers.
“Without our member and staff volunteers we would not have succeeded in so many races,” said Local 1000 President Yvonne R. Walker. “We were up against billionaires, corporate special interests and anonymous contributors who wanted to buy this election. We won because we have something they will never have: an army of committed volunteers.”
In the past two months, 1,800 members and staff completed more than 7,700 shifts, including 1,500 precinct walks on behalf of Proposition 30, against Proposition 32 and in support of candidates for state and local offices. We had phone banks set up in a dozen locations around the state, making more than 330,000 calls to identify supporters.
In the final four days leading up to the election, Local 1000 and hundreds of volunteers from our sister SEIU locals knocked on the doors of more than 300,000 homes where voters were previously identified by our phone bank teams as supportive.
Most importantly, our army of volunteers was able to turn the election around. Public opinion polls showed that Proposition 32 was likely to pass until our October blitz began to take effect. Our efforts also helped save Proposition 30, which was behind in opinion polls, from defeat.
“As state employees, politics has always had an impact on our work so it only makes sense that we volunteer to work hard for campaigns that benefit our members and California families as a whole,” said Connie Kabeary, chair of our Committee on Political Education. “Our members were able to educate thousands of voters to show that Proposition 32 was an attempted power grab by a small group of very rich people.”
Many of our members devoted hundreds of hours to the campaign. Many took time off their state jobs to spend much of October as fulltime member political organizers (MPO’s).
“I really feel that the work we did in the San Diego area certainly made a difference here – this is a conservative area but we were able to reach a lot of voters to explain that Proposition 32 was not at all about campaign reform,” said Dorrie Steadman, a Unit 17 nurse at Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County who took six weeks off as an MPO. “We also made a big difference in some local races.”
Some members, like Richard Hildebrand of Sacramento, were only able to volunteer for a few days but made the most of it.
“Until this election, I hadn’t really done anything political since Obama ran in 2008,” said Hildebrand, a Unit 1 member at the Department of Health Care Services. “I realized that the passage of Proposition 32 would really crush labor and ultimately hurt the whole middle class so I’m here to help.”
Phyllis Johnson, who retired in 2011 after 28 years in the Department Public Health, volunteered five or six days a week from September until Election Day at the Local 1000 headquarters in Sacramento, helping with dozens of tasks such as helping phone bankers and preparing packets for precinct walkers.
“I’m proud to help a good cause – I believe in what we do here,” Johnson said. “There is very little I can do alone against these power-hungry billionaires. But I’m not alone. I’m part of a team of thousands. That’s why we won.”