If anybody thought Local 600 members already expended all their political energy on the November general election, a wave of committed volunteers in the Peach State is here to convince you otherwise.
And while they’re at it, these Georgia-based Local 600 members will also be urging you to cast a ballot between December 14 and January 5, 2021, for two key U.S. Senate runoff races that will determine control of that chamber. By casting votes in these critical races, Georgians will be affecting the lives of working families across the country.
Second Assistant Zak Norton, former chair of the Atlanta Young Workers Group, views his advocacy work as an opportunity for the younger generation to make their mark, both within the Local and on the national stage.
“It’s part of my responsibility,” said Norton, a member since 2015. “The margins are so small that someone could, by casting a ballot, decide the outcome of our Senate. I’m a union member, but I’m also a millennial, and I live in Atlanta.”
“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” added Camera Operator Ken Ortiz, a member since 2000. “You have to be involved. You have to get in there. Your country asks you to get up, go out and vote. That is it. Make that decision.”
Norton and Ortiz have banded together with several other members to film short videos explaining the importance of voting. As was the case with Local 600 member-created PSA videos for the general election, these Georgia-specific videos are being shared on the Local 600 Vimeo and social media pages.
Whatever their politics, the members who recorded videos offered different reasons for stepping in front of the camera to encourage voting. Camera Operator Dean Smollar grew up in Washington, DC, attended school with the children of politicians and developed his political awareness early. Now the father of a 3-year-old son, Smollar contends that his family is top of mind when he goes to the ballot box.
“Voting for people who have pro-worker rights sentiments is even more important to me now that I am a father,” said Smollar, whose wife Julianne is a schoolteacher and also a union member. “Trying to inspire even one more person to vote can make a difference.”
Will Vinci, a second assistant, cautions against voters feeling complacent now that the general election is over and will decide to sit out the runoffs. But in the four years that he has been a Local 600 member, Vinci says the Local stays focused on all matters of importance, whether it’s a contract or making our voices heard in an election.
“Someone said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. That is something understood on a union level as well,” Vinci said. “With Local 600, it’s all about keeping your eye on the ball – constantly advocating for members while making sure we keep the things we’ve gained.”
Local 600 and members of other area IATSE locals are also participating in Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts in partnership with the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council. The Council recently held a virtual voter registration rally and phone bank and will feature candidates Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock at a live rally this Friday, December 11, 11 am (EST).
The campaign is also looking for volunteers who are willing to do literature drops and participate in phone banks between now and the election on January 5. To volunteer, contact Local 600 National Sergeant-at-Arms Deborah Lipman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It was so great that people turned out to vote in the last election,” said Second Assistant Jennifer Braddock. “We’ve just got to get them out there to vote again.”
More information about how to check important election dates, deadlines and more, can be found over at georgia.gov.