“The way you treat your lowest ranked employees says a lot about you as an organization…”
95 field organizers for the Florida Democratic Party have accused Joe Biden’s campaign of mistreatment, and ‘suppressing the Latino vote’ among other things.
In a scathing seven-page letter obtained by the Miami Herald, field organizers levied eight allegations against the campaign surrounding the lack of a “fully accountable field plan.”
Among the claims: mistreatment of field organizers, relocating trained staff members without explanation, lack of organizing resources and taking on volunteers who are then left in limbo. –Miami Herald
We can only imagine that for nearly 100 Florida organizers to claim the Biden campaign has neglected Latinos – an accusation which could damage the former VP just 100 days out from the general election, in a battleground state – and as polls show waning enthusiasm from Latino voters, that things must be genuinely bad.
According to the letter, Biden’s campaign lacks key infrastructure and has perpetuated a “toxic” work culture that has damaged morale among staffers.
In one grievance, several organizers were recently transferred from a heavily Puerto-Rican region to another part of the state with a small percentage of Hispanics.
“Four of five Spanish-speaking organizers along the I-4 corridor who were moved to North Florida were Puerto Rican,” reads the letter, adding that input from staffers in tune with Puerto Rican residents living in Central Florida is often dismissed.
“The [Coordinated Campaign of Florida] is suppressing the Hispanic vote by removing Spanish-speaking organizers from Central Florida without explanation, which fails to confront a system of white-dominated politics we are supposed to be working against as organizers of a progressive party,” reads the letter.
A Democratic official familiar with internal discussions who asked not to be named said the letter comes amid negotiations between the Coordinated Campaign in Florida and the field organizers’ union, the IBEW Local 824.
The official said organizers have not been updated on their individual assignments due to the ongoing union negotiations, which predate the letter. –Miami Herald
“We are roughly 100 days out from the election, and there is no functional targeted field outreach and organizing of the Hispanic/Spanish-speaking, Brazilian/Portuguese-speaking, and Haitian/Creole-speaking communities in our state,” the letter continues. “There are no targets, scripts, data infrastructure, community outreach, or phonebanks established for this.”
Among the requests from the field organizers is for the Coordinated Campaign to:
Apologize for “treatment of field staff;”
Commit to restoring organizers back to their original locations;
Give adequate notice of planned events and job openings;
Resume previous organizing activities that have been halted;
Provide more support to county chairs. –Miami Herald
“It is necessary to emphasize that despite this lack of preparedness by leadership, existing productive work was halted and the little strategy that was shared is ill-suited for the new dynamics of remote organizing,” according to the letter’s authors.
In response to the letter, ‘Biden for President Florida’ state director Jackie Lee said in a statement that the campaign has an “open-door policy,” and that they’re looking forward to consulting with the union on “many of the issues” brought up in the letter.
“We look forward to discussing them with organizers and getting their feedback as soon as able,” said Lee, adding “The stakes of this election are critical, and we are committed to working with our organizers and Florida Democrats at every level in order to build a strong, successful Coordinated Campaign.”
According to Lee, “No staff are asked to move or relocate, either from out of state or within states” over the past six weeks.
One field organizer told the Herald that “A lot of the field organizers are young and with that comes different views of workplace norms, the kind of culture that we want to establish,” adding “The way you treat your lowest ranked employees says a lot about you as an organization … especially in electoral work, when organizers are the ones on the front lines, they ones you’re asking to make 400 calls a day, the ones you’re asking to make real connections with voters on the ground.”
Another organizer said being asked to suddenly relocate has led to uncertainty over housing in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were told that we would get placement calls about where we thought we should be best placed and where we’d be most effective,” the organizer said. “A number of organizers didn’t even get those calls. … Since then, as we kind of merged into the Coordinating Campaign, we just haven’t been kept in the loop.”
The field organizer based in Central Florida said that while they all have a unified goal, many organizers feel unheard and unseen by the Coordinated Campaign in the few months leading up to the election.
“It’s disappointing, but i can’t say that I’m surprised,” the staffer said. “I just hope that it will be reckoned with soon.” –Miami Herald
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.