CONTACT: Ed Gilhuly, firstname.lastname@example.org, LEFT Communication
Miramar, FL —A dedicated group of active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees and property service workers in Florida who have taken a leave of absence from their jobs for the last two months are doubling down on their get out the vote efforts in the final days of the 2018 Election. These members, some of the 55,000 represented by SEIU Florida, one of the state’s largest unions, have been running voter outreach efforts among fellow union members and working families across the state.
For the past two months, they have signed up hundreds of their fellow SEIU members who have volunteered thousands of hours to canvass neighborhoods, work phone banks and participate in other actions on behalf of everyday Floridians.
Marilyn Ralat Albernas, a 63-year-old registered nurse from Miami, survived cancer, and is campaigning so Floridians have access to quality, affordable healthcare; including coverage for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. She’s driven for the freedom to live cancer-free for herself and others.
“As a cancer survivor, every day of this election I’ve been asking myself what I would do if I lost my health insurance because of what Ron DeSantis said about cancer patients and his repeated votes to take away coverage for pre-existing conditions,” said Ralat Albernas. “Andrew Gillum has provided unwavering support for people like me, and we need to vote like our life depends on it.”
Ray Flores is a retired hospital worker in Orlando who has spent weekends urging neighbors to vote for candidates committed to solving Florida’s affordable housing shortage. The gap between wages and housing costs is at a crisis level across the state, leaving so many working families without security and on the very edge of survival.
Ghislaine Bazile, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in North Miami Beach, has been knocking on doors so Floridians can earn a living wage. She believes it is wrong that so many low-wage Floridians have to work two full-time jobs to barely make ends meet. In Florida, many healthcare workers in Florida’s nursing homes and hospitals cannot afford health insurance because of low wages.
Blanche Norwood also is a CNA, and a great-grandmother. She fears her voice in the workplace is at risk, as well as benefits and rights for all workers, as a result of legislation, lobbyists and other powerful forces actively working to dismantle unions. When canvassing working-class neighborhoods, she cites studies that clearly show when unions are strong, all workers – union and non-union alike – enjoy better pay, benefits and working conditions.
These members personify SEIU Florida’s “Vote For Freedom” electoral platform which highlights the need for access to quality, affordable healthcare, good wages, union and worker rights and affordable housing.
The platform was bolstered by a $5 million investment by SEIU to support a slate of candidates, including Andrew Gillum for governor and Bill Nelson for United States senator, who are dedicated to putting everyday Floridians first over the interests of lobbyists and rich corporations.
Union members have worked particularly hard to put Gillum in the governor’s office. In stark contrast to his opponent Ron DeSantis, they point to Gillum’s support for union rights, including marching with SEIU workers. Incredibly important to SEIU members is Gillum’s belief that health care is a fundamental right, and that coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions should be protected. Members also say his support of a $15 minimum wage and a starting teacher salary of $50,000 shows how he will put everyday Floridians first. The fact that Gillum defeated the NRA twice in court to protect our children from gun violence has been especially motivating to working families
On the other hand, union members have called DeSantis a “health care disaster” who says cancer patients should “show up at the emergency room” for care. He has voted repeatedly to eliminate health coverage for pre-existing conditions and opposes Medicaid expansion. DeSantis’ “A” rating from the NRA and the fact that he said he would have vetoed the gun safety law passed in response to the Parkland shooting has been especially concerning to working families throughout the state. SEIU Florida members point to DeSantis’ opposition to worker rights and a living wage, and his comment that Floridians shouldn’t “monkey this up” be electing Andrew Gillum, as completely unacceptable
A full list of SEIU endorsements and other 2018 election information can be found at www.seiufl.org/endorsements.
SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the fastest-growing union in North America.