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Political action just peachy in Georgia

New York Teacher
9 members raise their fists in front of a bus during their efforts to get out the vote

UFT retiree volunteers from Georgia gather with AFT President Randi Weingarten (kneeling, center), when her Campaign 2020 Bus Tour stopped in Atlanta, before getting back to their phone banks and neighborhood literature distribution as part of their successful get-out-the-vote efforts.

All eyes were on Georgia in early January for the runoff elections that would determine whether the Democrats gained a majority in the U.S. Senate, just two months after they flipped the state blue in the presidential election. Volunteers from among the 480 UFT retirees living in Georgia took part in the battle — and they helped win it.

On the heels of Democratic victories in the two Senate races, Georgia Retiree Section Coordinator Gail Maynor reported, “The Republicans ran a hard and dirty campaign and we were bombarded by barrages of fliers, texts, phone calls and TV ads that kept coming.”

UFT retirees made their own phone calls to get out the vote in the same way they had for the contested November election. Trained by the Democratic National Committee Senior Council Phone Bank of Georgia, retiree volunteers living in Georgia — in addition to the UFT members, the AFT has 11,000 and NYSUT has 780 — gave their time and commitment to push the Democrats to victory.

Like all the UFT retiree sections around the country, the Georgia section has had to curtail most of its activities during the pandemic. But Maynor has scheduled a 75-minute virtual discussion and tour of the High Museum in Atlanta. It will feature an exhibition of photography by Dawoud Bey based on African American history and the Black experience, beginning on the streets of Harlem and stretching from the 1970s to the present. The tour will be led by Laural Humble, formerly of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, who now lives in Georgia.

Maynor said she continues to check on members who had medical challenges before the pandemic and those now facing issues because of the virus. She also helps retirees who request information about benefit issues and new retirees relocating in Georgia from New York.

UFT Vice President Janella Hinds, the secretary-treasurer of the New York City Central Labor Council, and UFT Retired Teachers Chapter Executive Board member Nina Tribble also helped in scoring the victory.

“Georgia is a big state and when in-person meetings happen, retirees drive hours to participate,” said RTC Chapter Leader Tom Murphy. “They see the meetings as a pipeline to home, both for benefit information and for social and cultural activities.”

He lauded the Georgia retirees for their contribution to the milestone electoral victories.

“It’s amazing to see that deep red, southern state flipped to a labor progressive state,” Murphy said. “Our members are part of that transformation.”

Related Topics: Political Action