AFL-CIO Exec. VP Holt Baker Fires Up Volunteers in California’s Battleground — the Central Valley

The Central Valley could be the California equivalent to Florida or Ohio in presidential politics – a critical battleground that may determine the fate of an election.

That’s why unions have placed special emphasis on the region this year, ramping up more phone banks, precinct walks and worksite visits than ever before. And if this weekend’s Central Valley GOTV kick offs are any indication of how much grassroots energy there is statewide for Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer and other working family candidates, it’s going to be a good night on Nov. 2.

National AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker joined hundreds of union volunteers and national and state leaders to kick off the final phase of California Labor Federation’s massive grassroots mobilization for the 2010 elections with union member-to-member walks in Modesto, Tracy and Sacramento.   

Highlighting the critical role the Central Valley will play in determining the outcome of both statewide and national elections this year, Holt Baker started the weekend in Modesto and Tracy on Saturday to motivate and encourage hundreds of volunteers before they began their door-to-door “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) drive, sponsored by the North Valley Labor Federation. Holt Baker was joined by other leaders in Modesto including California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski, Congressman Dennis Cardoza, State Assemblymember Anna Caballero and candidate for the State Board of Equalization Chris Parker.

Holt Baker emphasized the importance of grassroots mobilization to counteract the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by candidates who have promised to cruelly slash jobs and cut imperative state services:

We often hear, ‘this is the most important election in our lifetime.’ Well quite frankly, sisters and brothers, this is one of the most important elections because all eyes are on California right now. There are billionaires all over this nation that think that they’re going to be able to get control and take our country and our states backwards. We know where Meg Whitman stands when it comes to public sector workers. She’s the party of ‘No!’   She wants to reduce your wages and take away your pensions.   Jerry Brown stands with working class people, and he has a record to prove it.   And quite frankly, I think anyone who doesn’t care enough to vote for 28 years does not deserve the right to represent this state!

The Labor Federation's Art Pulaski further stressed the important role the Central Valley will play in this November election, particularly in the Governor’s race: 

The Central Valley is the key to us being able to win our battles for statewide elections. This is the battleground and you are leaders who can make it happen…Meg Whitman has already spent $140 million. She’s got three things that she wants to do. She wants to cut jobs, make more money for big business and Wall Street and give huge tax breaks to the wealthy. Well, we have a message for her: All the money in the world can’t buy California.

After the rally in Modesto, Holt Baker and Pulaski met with volunteers in Tracy and went door-to-door to talk with fellow union members about the upcoming election. On Saturday, volunteers visited 10,000 of their fellow union members in Modesto, Merced, Tracy, Lathrop, Manteca and Stockton.   

On Sunday, Holt Baker and Pulaski kicked off the Sacramento Labor Council’s final GOTV push. About 200 volunteers joined Holt Baker, Pulaski and Labor-endorsed candidate in Congressional District 3, Dr. Ami Bera, for a boisterous pre-canvass rally before hitting the streets to talk to thousands of union members.

Sacramento Labor Council leader Bill Camp says, in addition to the weekend precinct walks, volunteer phone banks are reaching tens of thousands of area union members weekly with a message about how important this election is to turning around our economy.

When we talk to union members they take it more seriously than they do TV ads or calls from candidates or political parties because it’s their union brothers and sisters talking to them. We can look folks in the eye and say ‘hey, we’ve done the research and these are the candidates that will help working people.’ That makes a huge difference.

The grassroots energy seen in the Central Valley this weekend is happening all across the state as we enter the final three weeks before Election Day. About 30,000 union volunteers are participating in walks, phone banks, worksite visits and other activities to reach California’s 2.1 million union members about the stakes in this election.

To join a precinct or phone bank near you, click here.