This canvasser walks up to a door…

by Lynne Bolton—Minnesota

So I’m out canvassing over in Northeast Minneapolis. I’d had a pretty good night—lots of support and agreement. I knocked on the first door of my callbacks. I’m doing my rap, the guy is smiling and nodding. When I finish it up, he smiles even bigger and says “I’m so Republican I hate John McCain. Alan Keyes would have been my guy and I hate, hate HATE national health care. But I like to consider myself informed.” He was so personable, so friendly I couldn’t help it and just started to laugh. I told him I wouldn’t push him to sign up but I did give him a flier so he could go online and check us out.

He took the flier, then he told me how much he admired us for being out here organizing and exercising our right to free speech, joked with me about our probable difference of opinion on a whole spectrum of issues (at one point I told him he take our actions online and we wouldn’t tell anyone), told me a terrible blonde joke and wished me luck getting members. And you know, I think he really meant it.

I told him that he had been the best, friendliest “no” that I had ever received. Then I told him about the blog and that tonight I would be blogging about him, so he should read it. So A, if you’re reading this, thanks again for being an uplifting “No”. I know you’ll remember us at Working America and that you know we’re fighting for you too—even if you are on a different side of the fence from me.

A turn-around at the door

by Sarah Podenski—Minnesota

I’m the Office Manager for the Twin Cities office, and I figured it was high time Office Managers were blogging! Yesterday I had a blogworthy story.

As we were preparing the crew to go out to turf, the phone rang. It was someone wanting to work for us, so I started the job call rap, asked her name and phone number and where she had heard about us.

She told me that someone came to her door the night before. “I have to admit, I’m twenty-three and I’ve only voted once. I feel like sometimes my vote doesn’t matter,” she said. But this canvasser who came to her door made her feel that even such a small thing like signing her name on a clipboard could have influence, could make change in her country. She admitted that when she heard the doorbell ring, she thought she’d just get rid of whoever it was and go back to what she was doing. “I was captured,” she said. “I had to stay and listen to everything he had to say.”

I’m so proud to be part of this office and part of this organization. We are empowering people, and it’s a wonderful thing.

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Insurance won’t take them

by Jeanne M—Minnesota

I met a woman whose husband had been laid off. He started his own software support business, and they’d tried to get health insurance. They applied to six different companies who kept turning them down because their daughter gets allergy injections. The last company they applied to turned them down because her husband’s body mass index is too high, since he is built like a football player. It’s not that they don’t want to have health insurance, it’s that no one will insure them.

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Goin’ to Canada?

by Peter Breitholtz—Minnesota

I spoke with a young man last week in Northeast Minneapolis. He and his wife were busy raising two young boys and both worked full time. However, the young man I spoke with shared with me that he had been laid off three times by his current employer and rehired. All three times he was laid off just before his health benefits were to kick in. He shared with me that he is seriously considering moving to Canada.

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Outsourcing devastates Ohio town

by Rebecka Hawkins—Ohio

Canvassing in Fostoria has made me realize how important our job really is to strengthening our country. Outsourcing is sweeping Fostoria, and the fear and sadness in the voices of the people I spoke to was heartbreaking. This outsourcing may destroy the economy of Fostoria. I am glad that Working America is here to do something about it and reverse the trend of our jobs moving overseas.

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A job just to pay for health care

by Matthew Fitting—Virginia

As soon as I said that we were organizing in his neighborhood for better health care, the man at the door raised his eyebrows. Turns out, the issue had been constantly on his mind because of his family. The way he said it, I figured we were talking about two or even three kids, but he and his wife had only recently had their first son.

Still, this meant sacrifices. His wife had to take a job with evening hours—he does landscaping during the day—solely to pay for their child’s health care. The costs, he said, were just killing them.

After signing as a member, he also signed a band-aid petition, meant to put a spotlight on the depth of the health care crisis in America. I also suggested he take a look at the AFL-CIO’s online health care survey. Hopefully he can tell his story to other people, too.

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Hard night out

by Lynne Bolton—Minnesota

My name is Lynne and I’m a 41 year old canvasser out of Minneapolis in my second week of training. I took this job in part because I had been laid off, but also because after 20 years of being in the work force, I wanted my work to mean something.

Winter canvassing is hard. For the first time in years, we’ve been having a real Minnesota winter. That means below zero temperatures and winds that gust hard enough to scour the snow off the ground and blow it in your face and down your neck no matter how bundled up you are. Add that to the big dogs, the dark and the people that say “I hate unions” and slam the door in your face, well, some nights this feels like a Sisyphusean enterprise.

Last night was one of those. I had some really difficult turf, and found myself getting frustrated, wanting to give up. But this morning as I was thinking about the past two weeks, I realized I can’t do that.

As difficult as last night was, as hard as it was to get people to sign up, we still made a difference. Because all those people I talked to saw and heard something they hadn’t seen in a while: they saw a person out there talking and fighting. Fighting for kids, fighting for workers, fighting for them. And in the back of their minds, when they hear about health care costs rising or education funds being cut, they’ll remember we’re out here.

And I’ll remember that too, tonight when I go back out on that turf. Because change that starts small grows strong.

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Outsourcing plaguing northwest Ohio

by John Spalding—Ohio

People are talking about Ohio’s job loss. Whether or not we canvass them and sign them up as members, citizens in northwest Ohio are aware of the huge losses of manufacturing jobs in our state.

This week in Fostoria and Toledo, people signed up because they are worried about job losses and support our work fighting outsourcing. Many of them had just heard an announcement about shift eliminations in Northwood, Ohio and about potential layoffs and closing of a plant in Fostoria beginning in March.

People readily take the clipboard and sign up as members to show support. As the economic stimulus package goes through Congress, most people are worried about creating and keeping good jobs in our state.

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We can do it

by Jared Ames—Michigan

I canvassed a guy today who was really excited about our issues and said that he was enthused about how the people were coming together to change things in our country. He also talked about countries in Europe, like France, who have health care along with other benefits and said that the reason they have that is because the politicians are afraid of their people. If the politicians try to take something away the country shuts down, the people shut it down. I want Americans to know that we have that power if we stand together!

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Sign up serenade

by Greg Lyons—Ohio

I knocked on a door and heard an instrument being tuned. A young woman came to the door, I canvassed her. She was very enthusiastic about our issues, signed up as a member, signed a band aid, and gave a dues payment. I saw that she’d been tuning an autoharp. I asked her if she’d play something for me and so she played and sang “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley. It was cool! She sounded great, and it made my night.

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