Latino labor groups aim to mobilize Florida voters against Trump
Leaders of several major Latino labor unions on Thursday declared their intent to rally Florida's Hispanic population to defeat Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and to oppose "the politics of hate."
Hispanics make up about 17 percent of Florida's electorate and are the fastest growing segment of the state's population. Voter participation among Hispanics is typically low, but labor leaders said they want to use their increased influence to make an impact in November. (They acknowledge they've said that for the past couple election cycles, but they emphasize this year really is different.)
"We’re turning this potential into a movement. We’re turning this potential out to the polls and we’re turning this potential into registering voters," Jessica Orozco, assistant vice president for policy for the Hispanic Federation, said during a press conference in Orlando.
AFL-CIO executive vice president Tefere Gebre said the unions plan to use 1,000 volunteers and staff across Florida to canvass neighborhoods and to register and educate Latino voters everywhere from bodegas to schools. They also plan to use direct mail, phone banks and visits to work-sites to target Latino communities, he said.
"Latinos are energized and they’re willing to stand together against the politics of hate," Gebre said. "I’m proud to say I’m also an immigrant and a refugee, and I’ll stand up to politicians who attack our values and vote for those who are willing to stand with us. We are more American than Donald Trump will ever be."
Polls have shown Trump struggling with Hispanic voters. He alienated many with his disparaging comments last summer against Mexicans -- labeling some as "rapists" and criminals -- and with his proposal to build a wall along America's southern border.
"We call upon Latino workers across this country and across this state to say: 'no mas' ('no more')," said Esther Lopez, secretary-treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
"We are going to stand for opportunity and hope, and we are going to stand against hate," Lopez added. "We are going to stand for dignity. We are going to stand for the power of the Latino worker."
The union leaders said their policy priorities for this election include "immigration reform with dignity," protecting workers' rights and fighting for better education and housing opportunities.