Rebecca Sandoval hasn't had a raise for six years.
She and other home-care workers who work for the state of Oregon and are represented by Local 503 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) make $10.20 an hour to assist people with disabilities and senior citizens, like the 99-year-old woman Sandoval cares for. The state froze wages at 2007 levels to help offset a yawning $855 million budget shortfall caused by the financial crisis. Almost every year since then, Sandoval says, it has further cut back hours, leaving workers with the choice to leave some of their clients' needs unmet or to work for free. “You can't rush a 99-year-old woman with any aspect of her daily living,” she says.
Anton Gunn's e-mail promises I won't have a hard time picking him out in the Starbucks in Richland County, South Carolina.
Easily the biggest guy in the room, the former offensive lineman looms over an older man in an American Legion baseball cap with whom he's chatting about local business. We're just northeast of Columbia, South Carolina's capital, in the heart of Gunn's state House district.
Gunn is used to standing out. An African American representative in a majority-white district, a Democrat in a Republican-dominated state, and a 36-year-old surrounded by career politicians, he makes a fitting messenger for Obama's campaign--trail message about the need for a new kind of politics that moves beyond traditional divisions.