In this, the remaining hectic days of campaigning in primary races for city offices, 32BJ SEIU member political organizer Brenda Mitchell-Dolor is very much in her element doing what she could to rally other members to volunteer and to get out the vote to elect city political leaders who would be friendly on issues affecting working people.
“It was discouraging at first,” Mitchell-Dolor said, “It could be a difficult task knowing what to say to persuade people who are set in their ways but I am happy for the experience. It keeps me motivated, finding the words to convince more members to volunteer to help make our union stronger.”
This sort of challenge is why she joined the brigade. She has encountered too many co-workers wringing hands over what 32BJ SEIU is or is not doing for them. And because she came on the job as a part-timer, she knows that many non-full-time workers often isolate themselves.
“When I got this opportunity, I was interested in it because it is a way for me to educate my co-workers, especially part-timers, about the power we have as members to influence what happens to us,” Mitchell-D0lor said.
Mitchell-Dolor, 54, is a lifelong Jamaica, Queens resident and has been a custodial worker at Madison Square Garden for eight and half years. The Member Political Organizer (MPO) program, which gives 32BJ members the opportunity to work as a political organizer on a campaign, opened her eyes about ways to strengthen the union, she said. MPOs, working on the front lines of our struggle to make politics work for working people, are trained to be forceful advocates for the cause of building up service workers and all working families.
Some other things MPOs do include talking to members about issues that affect their lives; canvassing door-to-door for 32BJ’s endorsed candidates for public office; and registering members to vote and get out the vote on election day.
“Without a doubt, we’ve knocked on some doors,” Mitchell-Dolor said. “When we first started, we needed neighborhood leaders, getting volunteers to come out and door-knock and hand out leaflets.”
She has found the process both enlightening and energizing. She has found herself partnering with many different people, talking to many more members than she normally would have and learning from people she has encountered in the process.
“Imagine finding out you belong to a union as strong as 32BJ?” she asked. “You can be part of the change you want because it takes more than one person. You can’t do it alone. Together, we are stronger.
“This is important to me, to my family, to my son. I want him to stand tall and let his voice be heard.”