Pramila Jayapal speaking at a Bernie Sanders rally
Rep. Pramila Jayapal addresses the crowd at the Seattle Labor Temple Association (Photo: Ruairi Vaughan/NPI)

On a brisk and windy Sat­ur­day after­noon, an enthu­si­as­tic crowd gath­ered in a meet­ing hall inside the Labor Tem­ple Asso­ci­a­tion in Seattle’s Bell­town neigh­bor­hood. The crowd of labor activists had come to hear rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders’ pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and learn how they could take part in the polit­i­cal move­ment that the Ver­mont social­ist is try­ing to build across the country.

UFCW 21's Sue Wilmont
UFCW 21’s Sue Wilmont address­es fel­low Sanders sup­port­ers in Seat­tle (Pho­to: Ruairi Vaughan/Seattle)

The after­noon start­ed with rous­ing speech­es by mem­bers of Unit­ed Food and Com­mer­cial Work­ers (UFCW) Local 21, Wash­ing­ton state’s largest pri­­vate-sec­­tor labor union. Sue Wilmont, a gro­cery work­er and union leader who (like our Exec­u­tive Direc­tor) served as a Sanders del­e­gate at the 2016 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, praised Sen­a­tor Sanders’ Medicare for All pol­i­cy, and laud­ed Sanders for hav­ing “the most pro-work­er pol­i­cy out­look” of any pres­i­den­tial candidate.

After hear­ing direct­ly from union rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the next to speak was Con­gress­woman Prami­la Jaya­pal, who rep­re­sents Washington’s 7th District.

Jaya­pal, one of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ most effec­tive pro­gres­sives, recent­ly endorsed Sanders’ pres­i­den­tial bid and cur­rent­ly works as the campaign’s state chair. She also serves as the Sanders campaign’s health pol­i­cy chair.

Pramila Jayapal speaking at a Sanders campaign event
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaya­pal is an hon­orary co-chair of the Sanders cam­paign, and serves as a health pol­i­cy co-chair (Pho­to: Ruairi Vaughan/NPI)

Jayapal’s speech cov­ered many of Bernie Sanders’ key rhetor­i­cal points – the neces­si­ty of Medicare For All, stronger labor unions, and tak­ing on sys­temic inequal­i­ties – and tying them to Wash­ing­ton State’s lead­er­ship on many pro­gres­sive issues. She also drew par­al­lels between Sen­a­tor Sanders’ polit­i­cal career and her own, high­light­ing the fact that Sanders helped found the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus which she now co-chairs.

Turn­ing to Sanders’ pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, she made it clear that it is essen­tial that the next pres­i­dent is more than an anti-Trump: “Trump is both a symp­tom and a cause, he is both things. He didn’t emerge out of nowhere.” Jaya­pal high­light­ed the many struc­tur­al inequal­i­ties that Sanders is deter­mined to tack­le, and argued that only a moment-based cam­paign will be able to suc­ceed in those aims.

Supreet Kaur
Supreet Kaur is the Sanders cam­paign’s nation­al Asian Amer­i­can and Pacif­ic Islander orga­niz­er (Pho­to: Ruairi Vaughan/NPI)

After Jaya­pal, the stage was tak­en by Supreet Kaur, the Sanders campaign’s Nation­al Asian Amer­i­can and Pacif­ic Islanders Orga­niz­er. Ms. Kaur told the crowd her sto­ry, mov­ing to the USA from India, and then launched into prac­ti­cal mat­ters. She care­ful­ly coached the atten­dees on how to vol­un­teer, cau­cus, and talk to friends about Bernie Sanders’ cam­paign. She also gave a crash-course on how to use the BERN App, which helps vol­un­teers to track poten­tial sup­port­ers, know when key pri­maries and cau­cus­es are tak­ing place, and reg­is­ter peo­ple to vote.

Most of the atten­dees were enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers of Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders, and offered a diverse set of rea­sons for their support.

Bernie signs at a campaign rally
The union hall was packed with enthu­si­as­tic Bernie fans (Pho­to: Ruairi Vaughan/NPI)

Tom, a rail­road con­sul­tant (who has been a polit­i­cal activist since the ear­ly 1960s) said that he has been impressed by Sanders’ long record of anti-war activism and stand­ing up for civ­il rights. Nate, an elec­tri­cian, argued that Medicare for All would make rais­ing his two chil­dren more affordable.

Mubarak, a soft­ware engi­neer high­light­ed the diverse sup­port that the Ver­mont Sen­a­tor has gath­ered behind him.

The speak­ers and sup­port­ers in the room always returned to the same fac­tor when talk­ing about their sup­port for Sanders – his ide­o­log­i­cal con­sis­ten­cy over a fifty-year career in pol­i­tics. This fact impressed itself upon both old and young sup­port­ers, and it seemed clear that the Senator’s record of stick­ing to his guns is per­haps his most impor­tant strength among union members.

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