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Women Step Up to Make Change Happen for Hillary Clinton

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/02/2016 Laura Reyes

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Across the nation today, women in our union are rising to enthusiastically support a candidate for president of the United States who is the most qualified, the best prepared and the fiercest defender of America’s families.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has served to mobilize so many of my sisters along the campaign trail, and their enthusiasm and commitment fills me with enormous optimism for what we can achieve. She is committed to helping America’s families raise wages and improve benefits, to fix the student loan debt and, finally, to gain equal pay for equal work.

Many of them were out knocking on doors during the Presidents’ Day weekend, including in Nevada, ahead of the Democratic caucuses where Secretary Clinton won 53 percent of the vote. They are motivated because they know she will strengthen our families and our communities, defending critically needed public services.

“We want to make sure our members know how to participate in the process, and where to go,” said Sonja Whitten, a Nevada Department of Welfare and Social Services employee and vice president of AFSCME Local 4041. She and other volunteers were educating members about how Secretary Clinton has championed working families and will fight for public services and the workers who deliver them.

That message came through loud and clear in Iowa, where Secretary Clinton won union households 52-43 over Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 21 percent of caucus goers coming from union households. This is how we know we can make a difference. Not only do union members vote in higher proportion the rest of the electorate, they also work hard to get out the vote among colleagues, family, friends.

Because of the hard work on the ground by active and retired AFSCME activists like Jessie Vroegh and Susan Rowe, we were able to knock on more than 8,000 doors, engage in more than 11,000 one-on-one conversations with members, and put in more than 1,000 volunteer shifts for the campaign during our Get-Out-To-Caucus program.

“We talked with members about Hillary’s personal story,” of substantive success on policy issues that affect so many Americans, Vroegh said, “about how she was the first to work on a real plan for health care reform, and then how she created the Children’s Health Insurance Program. She will listen to us – that was a big part of our message to members.”

Secretary Clinton’s commitment to working families and to worker rights was on display during the Democratic debate Feb. 11. Speaking in Wisconsin, she took the opportunity to criticize anti-worker Gov. Scott Walker for slashing education funding and worker rights. “We’ve got to stand up for unions, for working people who built the middle class, and who are being attacked by ideologues,” she said.

The next day, she doubled-down on her support for union workers in an opinion piece in Medium, pledging to fight for higher wages and better jobs for American workers.

“The American labor movement knows how to get it done: by organizing,” she wrote. “We see it all the time – when working people join together and bargain collectively, wages go up and families are better off.”

It is this concern for American families – a lifelong mission going back to her days working for the Children’s Defense Fund and reflected in her 1996 book, It Takes a Village – that inspires women to rally behind her. Laura Leavitt, who retired from Nevada’s Early Intervention Services, assisting children with special needs, thanked Hillary for her work helping children when she met the then-senator from New York in 2008.

“Senator Clinton said, ‘No, thank you! You’re making a difference in their lives,’” Leavitt recalls. “It was so gratifying. I think she will be a great President.”

During the next Presidential campaign in 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote. I fervently hope that we will be working then to re-elect the first female president. With the support of America’s women, and all those who care about women’s rights, she will win.

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