COVID-19 has destroyed the livelihoods of far too many. We need Ossoff and Warnock to help us recover.

By Neil Gluckman

Neil Gluckman is a union stagehand and a member and business representative of IATSE 927, the Atlanta Stage Technicians. He lives in Decatur, Georgia battling multiple myeloma and plasma cell leukemia.

I’m a stagehand and union representative in the performance industry. The pandemic has nearly destroyed the arts and theatre industry which supports thousands of jobs across Georgia due to safety concerns, costing each of us our livelihoods and for some, their health care.

In 2018, I was diagnosed with blood and bone cancer and am now undergoing immunotherapy. Any one of my medical expenses could sink my family if we lost the coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Our family is blessed that when the pandemic struck and performance industry jobs vanished, our union offered to cover the employer contribution on our healthcare plans, but unfortunately this is not the reality for all. So many Georgians have been booted off their healthcare plans, adding additional pain to furloughs, layoffs, and the pain of watching our neighbors and families become ill.

We’ve been in this situation for eight months now because of the refusal of our senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — and of Mitch McConnell’s Republican majority — to pass desperately-needed, comprehensive relief throughout the pandemic. To remove the gridlock standing in the way of our recovery, we must elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the Senate on January 5th.

The challenges facing the people of Georgia continue to grow everyday as we lose more and more of our loved ones and neighbors to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last thing the American people can afford is more years of dysfunction and gridlock in Washington D.C. What we need now is to have the federal government speak on behalf of the working people of Georgia, not the divided government that failed to pass significant COVID relief from the March CARES Act until now — eight months later.

Georgians’ inability to meet their most basic needs during a crisis makes the abdication of responsibility by our Senators Perdue and Loeffler that much more painful to witness. Our Senators have time after time neglected to extend unemployment benefits and to pass additional stimulus and relief to offer reprieve to Georgians when we have needed it all along.

Perdue and Loeffler are woefully out of touch with the working people of Georgia and cannot fully understand what it’s like to not have the economic security of being a millionaire during an economic crisis. Representatives who have no concept of the challenges facing their constituents are not representatives at all. If they will not use their office to help Georgians like us, then why should we Georgians let them continue to occupy it?

Jon Ossoff is a self-made small business owner and Reverend Raphael Warnock is a pastor who grew up among hardship. They will serve in the spirit of John Lewis, my Congressman who never ceased to give his all in the service of Georgians. If there was an important community issue or event, John Lewis was there to listen and help. However, I haven’t seen my current Senators make any such offer. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will show up as Congressman Lewis did and have Georgians’ backs.

Today, I ask Georgians to vote for the candidates who will act with our interests at heart, who will show up for our communities as we struggle in hardship. Vote for the candidates who have a vision for a better Georgia: Ossoff and Warnock.

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