Read this news in English in the Miami Herald.
More than 90 grassroots organizers from the Florida Democratic Party signed a memorandum to the party leadership on Friday, claiming, among other things, that the campaign is “suppressing the Hispanic vote” in the central part of the state.
The seven-page internal memo, obtained by the Miami Herald, contains eight accusations by the organizers about what they say is the lack of a “practical base plan” for the Biden campaign to coordinate outreach efforts among voters.
The communication comes to light 100 days before the general election and at a time when polls indicate that enthusiasm for voting among Hispanics in key states like Florida may be dwindling in light of the pandemic.
Among the claims: mistreatment of the base organizers, relocation of trained staff members without explanation, lack of organizational resources and the acceptance of volunteers who are then left in limbo.
In states like Florida, elections are historically won or lost by a small margin, and as presidential campaigns increase their efforts in Florida’s Hispanic communities, organizers claim that Biden’s national campaign lacks key infrastructure and it perpetuates a “toxic” work culture that is damaging morale among field workers.
A big problem is that at least a handful of organizers were recently transferred from a heavily Puerto Rican part of the state to counties with a small percentage of Hispanics.
“Four of the five Spanish-speaking organizers along the I-4 corridor who were moved to North Florida were Puerto Ricans,” the letter says.
Grassroots organizers add that many times the opinion of employees linked to Puerto Ricans in the central part of the state is discarded.
“The Florida campaign is suppressing the Hispanic vote by eliminating Central Florida’s Spanish-speaking organizers without explanation, thus avoiding facing a white-dominated political system against which we must work as organizers of a progressive party,” adds the letter.
A Democratic official familiar with the internal discussions, who asked not to be identified, said the letter comes up amid negotiations between the Biden campaign in Florida and the grassroots organizers union, IBEW Local 824.
The official said organizers have not been updated on their individual assignments due to ongoing union negotiations, which predate the letter.
Jackie Lee, state director for Biden for President Florida, said in a statement that the campaign has an “open door policy” and its Florida leadership is consulting with IBEW Local 824 on “many of the issues” discussed in the letter.
“We look forward to discussing them with the organizers and receiving their comments as soon as possible,” said Lee. “The stakes of this election are critical and we are committed to working with our organizers and Florida Democrats at all levels to create a strong and successful campaign.”
Lee added that for the past six weeks, “no staff has been asked to move or relocate, either from out of state or within states.”
The 94 signatories, most of whom have worked directly with the Florida Democratic Party, are responsible for the daily outreach of potential voters, including telephone banking and community organizing to campaign for candidates at the local, state level and presidential.
The letter, which various sources told the Herald was distributed Friday to campaign leaders in the state, was sent days after county chairmen of the Florida Democratic Party voiced similar concerns to party leaders that the campaign for Biden risks repeating some of the same mistakes from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Organizers say in the note that while they have expressed frustration with the campaign blunders in Florida, some staff members have been “scolded” as a result, and their concerns have been dismissed as “unnecessary and misguided.” And the signatories stress that although some employees have been brought in from out of state to supervise employees on the ground, grassroots organizers of the state party have not received priority.
“We are about 100 days from the elections and there is no directed and functional grassroots effort to organize the Spanish, Portuguese and Haitian-speaking communities in our state,” says the letter. “There are no goals, plans, information, community activities or telephone banks established for this.”
Organizers’ requests include:
▪ Apologize for “treating base personnel.”
▪ You agree to return the organizers to their original locations.
▪ Provide adequate notice of planned events and job offers.
▪ Resume organizational activities that have stopped.
▪ Support more county chairs.
In recent general election polls, former Vice President Biden appears to be taking the lead on President Donald Trump, even among Hispanic voters. In Florida, the Democratic Party official added that the Coordinated Campaign is still recruiting bilingual organizers in Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange and Osceola counties before the election.
And in an effort to promote its commitment to Hispanics, Biden’s campaign announced earlier this month that it was coordinating with one of the nation’s leading Hispanic voting firms, Latino Decisions.
Even so, according to organizers who spoke to the Herald on condition that they not be identified for fear of retaliation, they attribute the lack of communication in part to a generation gap within the party structure.
“Many of the grassroots organizers are young, and with that comes different views on workplace standards, the kind of culture we want to establish,” said a prominent grassroots organizer in central Florida.
“The way he treats his lesser employees says a lot about the organization … especially in electoral work, when the organizers are the ones on the front line, who are asked to make 400 calls a day, to who are asked to establish a real bond with the voters, ”said the organizer.
Another organizer said that being moved suddenly has led to housing uncertainty amid the pandemic.
“They told us that they would call us to tell us where we would be better placed and more effective,” said the organizer. “Some organizers don’t even get those calls. Since then, as we merged into the overall campaign, we simply are not aware. ”
The grassroots organizer from central Florida said that while everyone has the same goal, many organizers say the campaign pays attention to them within a few months of the election.
“It’s disappointing, but I can’t say I’m surprised,” said the organizer. “I just hope they find out soon.”
Translation by Oscar Díaz.