I'm out here volunteering my own time to talk to SEIU members about this election because it is life and death - I truly believe it is that important. People ask me, 'Are you getting paid to do this?' and when they hear that I'm volunteering my time to do this, well, that's when they really listen. They say 'Well if it's that important to you then this must really be important.'
I am thankful that I am able to be on lost-time this month--but on top of that I'm also taking my vacation time and my personal days so that I can be out here doing everything I can in Philadelphia to help re-elect President Obama. I'm doing this for free because there is urgency in this.
This election is very important to me. It's important for us to get the young people involved and let them know that we need to fight. This is a serious matter. If people can volunteer maybe even 2 or 3 hours a week, it will make a difference and it is so important.
I canvass and we also go to work sites. I've been to five work sites and I've talked with hundreds of SEIU members so far. My worksite I talked to 80 members. Then I went to another work site where there were 100 members, and another and another, we're talking to everyone and letting people know this election matters and their vote matters.
I have a partner that I go out on the doors with, Shondea Moore. She is 23 years old and she is getting people involved, too. We knock on doors together and we are a team, we help each other out. Together we are talking to younger SEIU members to let them know we are from the Local Union and then we ask them what their issues are, what is important to them and then we listen.
If you don't listen to their story, how do you know how the union can help them out?
Then I ask them what do they want to do about it? Do they want to sit there and let somebody walk on them or do they want to fight back? I'm not talking about violence; I'm talking about using your mind. You may fight back with violence and you may actually win, but that is a short term win. I'm talking about a long-term win.
Some people don't know they have a union, they don't know that is where they got their contact and the policies and procedures at their job. Once they know their rights, they can start to do things. People need to know we have a future. Right now is the time, make your voice heard.
I'm getting younger SEIU members involved in this election because we are having an economic crisis in this country and it affects the funding for the people that we serve.
I talk to people about Obama and they say, 'Oh he promised to do this and that and he never did.' I say, let me tell you something, he did promise that. He had to clean up the mess that the other President left. You have to understand what this man had to do. He had to clean up. You can't just come into someone else's house and expect it to be clean. He did do a lot for us. I tell them, look, if Romney gets elected it's going to get much much worse. What if you have kids? You won't be able to go to work because Romney is going to cut the funding for child care. I give them a vision. I say listen, Obama told you what he's going to do and Romney never said what he's going to do. Romney says he has five steps, he doesn't even have one step. He really doesn't.
I was born when Reagan was in office and we don't want to live through all that all over again. We really don't. I believe it. I believe that if we let the 1% take over then the 99% is going to fail. Stand up, speak and I promise you, Obama, he won't fail.
He is all ready to clean it up, don't let him fall because if he falls, we all fall.
Sybrenia Birch is a member of SEIU Local 668. She works as a Life Skills Associate in Chester, Pennsylvania providing care and assistance to people living with physical and mental disabilities.