By Cassie Geremaia, State Worker, Colorado WINS, SEIU Local 1876
2020 has been rough in more ways than one but especially for essential workers. As a nation, we’ve experienced many hardships this year that none of us expected. We’ve seen our nation come together to organize for change around racial and economic justice while mourning the loss of many loved ones. Although it's been a long year, the fight for justice, democracy and the future we all desire to live in is just starting.
This pandemic has vividly highlighted how much society depends upon essential workers and yet we’re still treated as if we’re sacrificial. We’ve been applauded as we worked to save lives nationwide in the midst of dangerous, exhausting conditions but we are often left unprotected by a government that has failed to supply us with enough personal protective equipment, supplies, hazard pay and resources to do our jobs.
I’m a state worker currently working for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing as a Hospital Cost Analyst. Earlier this year, we took action so that the rest of our coworkers and I could have more negotiating power. Due to our hard work, we along with 28,000 state workers in Colorado now have the support of Governor Polis in the fight to win the power to negotiate higher wages and better jobs. I know firsthand the importance of organizing and how people power can change any outcome for the better.
This year’s election goes beyond who will be president. It’s about making sure we support those who are most vulnerable in this moment. We can’t forget about the people who were struggling before Covid-19. Many of those same individuals don’t know how they will make ends meet throughout the rest of the year. It’s an experience I know all too well. When I was young, my mom and I lived in a car, sometimes staying with family, but only temporarily. Through Section 8 housing our situation got better. Eventually, by moving to a better neighborhood, I was able to receive a better education which showed me that there are two Americas; one of wealth and privilege and another of poverty and struggle. This election season is time for choosing where we stand. That’s why I’m happy to cast my vote for Joe Biden, the only candidate who will fight for working class folks like me and you.
Here’s the truth: We’ve always been essential. When we look back at how we beat this pandemic, we’ll know that it wasn’t corporate CEOs or billionaires that came through and saved us. It was healthcare workers, janitors, public employees and other workers who risk our lives for others.
This election will depend on us, the same essential workers who’ve kept our nation running during this difficult time. It will depend on us to turn our country around. Our vote is our voice on issues affecting housing, education, employment and healthcare. Elections are decided by the people who go out and vote. If we don’t vote, someone else will make the decision for us. Our power is in our vote. We will organize for change and win big this election season with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. My vote is essential because my life and work is too.