SEIU’s International Executive Board met in Miami to review strategic plans to build a wider movement and stronger union in the 21st century. The week-long conference included a host of committee meetings that examined a wide range of issues including racial, immigrant and environmental justice. Local unions, including SEIU Local 1991, also had the chance to showcase their work at a reception at the Hyatt in downtown Miami. SEIU Local 1991 President and RN Martha Baker, Dr. Dave Woolsey and other Board Members led a presentation about SEIU’s Together We Rise principles and how SEIU Local 1991 has achieved success implementing them in a Right to Work state.
The reception included presentations on a host of other TWR principles and goals. SEIU Local 1991 Treasurer Magalie Pena Vancol, a Social Worker at JHS, shared her experiences and goals in the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Florida and other states. She also discussed her political activism and the work she has done as a Member Political Organizer. Other Florida union locals gave presentations about organizing, community work and state and local political strategies.
Elected officials also attended the event. Among them, Miami-Dade Commissioners Daniella Levine-Cava and Jean Monestime.
The recent SEIU convention in Detroit marked a milestone in the continued success of Local 1991, thanks in great measure to the hard work of our active members.
Local 1991 was well represented by board members Martha Baker, RN, Barbara Scollon, RN, Vicki Gonzalez, RN, Maggie Pena, BSW, Denise Glass, RN, Yolanda Tecson, RN, Carla Quigley, RN, pharmacist Sereda White, millennial member Dontrel Smith and staff.
President Baker was elected as an Executive Board member on SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry’s slate. The honor is a huge recognition of all the progress we have made together as a team.
In particular, MKH and the executive board were impressed with Local 1991’s success as the local with the highest percentage of membership in any right-to-work state in the country. They also noted the high level of participation of our members in political campaigns. We blew them away with our turnout for Hillary in the primary push. Finally, our local’s leadership role on the national Nurse Alliance was also lauded.
The member delegates who attended our 26th International Convention adopted a range of resolutions to guide SEIU in the coming years. (The following are capsule summaries; click through to the resolutions themselves for a fuller understanding of each. They are presented in the order of their resolution number.)
RESOLUTIONS FROM THE RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE
RESOLUTIONS PROPOSED BY THE INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD
It was a very good week for working people. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court sided against the wealthy special interests behind the Friedrichs v California Teachers Association case, which threatened to effectively restrict the rights of teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses and other people who serve the public to band together in a union.
Why should you care? Because the power of unions is our strength in numbers. Individually, we don’t have much chance against managers or politicians who would take away our rights and reduce hard-won benefits. But together, here at Jackson and across the country, we stand up together and get much further than we could alone. Supreme Court decisions like this show why it really matters who gets into the White House.
More good news came out of California this week. Lawmakers and labor unions struck a tentative deal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.50 an hour next year and then gradually to $15, making California the first state to do so. This is the latest front in a national movement to raise the minimum wage and empower working people.
Members in the news: our members regularly get involved and speak out on a variety of issues. Sam Ruiz, RN, recently published an op-ed in the Sun-Sentinel on Hillary Clinton’s healthcare policies. Denise Glass, RN, penned an letter for the Miami Herald about why medical marijuana should be a health care decision, not a political one.
Three-and-a-half years after 200 fast-food workers walked off their jobs in New York City, sparking a national movement for $15/hr and union rights, the Fight for $15 won its biggest victory yet when Gov. Jerry Brown reached a deal with state legislators Monday to make California the first state to pass a $15/hr minimum wage.
“When workers in New York City started this movement in 2012, nobody gave them a shot and when we joined in in California a few months later, people said we had no chance. But today, more than 6 million Californians secured life-changing raises that will lift our families out of poverty,” said Guadalupe Salazar, a McDonald’s worker in Oakland and member of the National Organizing Committee of the Fight for $15. “And more victories are on the way across the country. Our movement has unstoppable momentum. When workers join together and speak out, real change results.”
The deal will raise pay for the more than 6.5 million Californians paid less than $15, representing increases for 43% of the state’s workforce. It comes as California celebrates the 100th anniversary of its state minimum wage, and will result in raises that haven’t been seen in generations. By 2020, workers will see what amounts to a 50% increase over the current minimum wage, the most rapid raise since the state minimum more than doubled to $.33 from $.16 from 1918 to 1920.
It comes months after fast-food workers across New York won $15/hr and as politicians across the country are racing to respond to workers’ demands for $15/hr. Last week, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled a plan to raise pay to $15/hr by 2020, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in serious negotiations to raise New York’s minimum wage to $15, multiple outlets have reported. In New Jersey, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he will put a $15/hr constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2017.
The Fight for $15 has built a growing awareness that $15/hr is the minimum wage level American workers in every part of the country need to survive and pay for the necessities to support their families. Cities including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have raised their minimum wage to $15/hr. And home care workers in Massachusetts and Oregon won $15/hr statewide minimum wages. Companies including Facebook, Aetna, Amalgamated Bank, and Nationwide Insurance have raised pay to $15/hr or higher; workers in nursing homes, public schools and hospitals have won $15/hr via collective bargaining; and fast-food workers have ratcheted up pressure on companies like McDonald’s to raise pay to $15/hr.
The Democratic Party adopted a $15/hr platform, the Democratic candidates for president have lined up in support of the workers in the Fight for $15, and elected leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Kristen Gillibrand back a $15/hr federal minimum wage. It’s a far cry from the situation when the Fight for $15 started—when discourse on the economy was limited to talk of debt and deficits and two lone Democrats in Congress (former Sen. Tom Harkin and former U.S. Rep. George Miller) were the only ones brave enough to even call for $10.10/hr.
Slate, among others, has credited the Fight for $15 with completely rewiring “how the public and politicians think about wages.” MSNBC said the Fight for $15, “entirely changed the politics of the country, and Fortune said the Fight for $15 “transformed labor organizing from a process often centered on nickel-and-dime negotiations with a single employer into a social justice movement that transcends industry and geographic boundaries.”
On Nov. 29, 2012, 200 New York City McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC cooks and cashiers walked off their jobs, demanding $15/hr and union rights, in what the New York Times called, “the biggest wave of job actions in the history of the fast-food industry.” Few gave the workers a chance, but their calls for higher pay caught on and spread across the country. Within months, workers walked off their jobs in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Milwaukee, sowing the seeds of a national movement that would eventually hit California on Aug. 29, 2013, when hundreds of Los Angeles fast-food workers walked off their jobs for the first time.
The Fight for $15 quickly spread throughout California, with strikes hitting cities like Oakland, Sacramento and San Diego before boomeranging back to Los Angeles with a bang in May 2015, when the City of Angels became the biggest city yet to pass a $15 minimum wage. Los Angeles County followed suit in September, with cities like Pasadena, Mountain View and Santa Monica also passing $15. Workers continued striking—cooks and cashiers in 50 California cities went on strike in November—and the unstoppable momentum led to a push to make $15 the statewide minimum wage, an effort that came to a historic conclusion Monday.
“The victory in California shows us that we need to keep on marching, keep on speaking out and keep on sticking together until we win $15 everywhere,” said Terrence Wise, a McDonald’s and Burger King worker in Kansas City, Mo. and member of the Fight for $15 National Organizing Committee. “If you work hard, you shouldn’t have to rely on the government to support your family—you should be paid enough to put a roof over your kids’ heads and food on their table.”
2015 was a remarkable year when our movement made great progress on our journey to a just society, where all work is valued, and all people respected.
With your help, we have reached a milestone on our journey: $15 an hour has gone from a slogan to a benchmark.
The Wage Board in New York set a $15 minimum wage for fast-food employees all across the state. That will free up a billion dollars that can now be invested in the good jobs that New York needs.
What is SEIU?
We are the Service Employees International Union, an organization of 2-million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.
SEIU Healthcare, the healthcare arm of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is the largest healthcare union in North America with more than 1.1 million members.
We are doctors and nurses, home care and nursing home workers; we are lab techs, environmental service workers and dietary aides. We are front-line healthcare workers who care for more than 60 million patients across 29 states and two countries. We are caregivers in hospitals, health centers, nursing homes, in-home care and in our communities.
Other branches of SEIU include janitors, security officers, maintenance and custodial workers, stadium and arena workers, window cleaners, and other workers who provide important services. We also have public service employees with more than 1 million local and state government workers, public school employees, bus drivers, and child care providers.
SEIU has used this network of people throughout the country to advocate for a variety of social and economic justice causes — including the Fight for $15 an hour, affordable healthcare and sensible immigration reform.
WASHINGTON—Following the Jan. 20 State of the Union address by President Obama, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement:
“Tonight we heard from a president who won’t back down when it comes to standing up for America’s working women and men. President Obama made a powerful case for an America that provides the support that all working families need and that keeps immigrant families together.
“Across the country, too many families work hard and still struggle to make ends meet. The president laid out key investments that will improve the lives of America’s working families.
“Raising wages will enable Americans to provide for their families and to spend more to get our economy moving.
“To thrive, working people need a fair wage, access to affordable healthcare and child care, fair scheduling so they can plan for their day-to-day family life, and the ability to earn paid leave in the event of illness. Families should have a fair shot to build a successful future through free community college, student debt relief, and investments in pre-K, primary and secondary education.
“And we echo the president’s sentiment: if you really want to make gains at your workplace, the way to do it is to join together and fight for it. If we truly want an America where families and our economy thrive, we must invest in our families and work to make them stronger.
“It’s time for the Republican leadership in Congress to put people ahead of politics by supporting these much-needed investments in America’s families, instead of focusing their time on driving families apart.”
It’s been five months since the Senate passed its immigration reform bill, S. 744. Each day that the House of Representatives refuses to take up reform costs the country an estimated $37 million.
House Speaker John Boehner has said that House Republicans won’t agree to go to a conference committee with the Senate bill so that the two houses can work out their differences and in fact don’t intend to vote on immigration reform this year.
The Senate bill includes a 13-year pathway for 11.7 million illegal immigrants that ends with a chance to naturalize. But some House Republicans reject the Senate path as rewarding illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, President Obama said that if the House won’t agree to an omnibus bill, he’s fine with them passing a series of smaller bills as long as the end result is the same.
It’s a tough spot, but all is not lost.
The overwhelming consensus of the public—including almost every major business, labor, and faith organization across the nation—is that the time for reform is now.
A growing number of Republicans say they remain ready to work on immigration and could consider legalization, if it did not involve any direct route to citizenship.
And two Republican members of the U.S. House have stepped forward as the first GOP co-sponsors of an immigration reform bill that would provide a path to citizenship.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) joined Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and 185 House Democrats are now backing the legislation. The bill is also supported by another local Congressman, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.).
SEIU and our partners continue the drumbeat to pressure lawmakers to heed the public will and urge the House to bring a bill to a vote.
In fact, public opinion surveys show that Republican House members can begin to rebuild the damage to their popularity caused by the government shutdown if they vote for commonsense immigration reform.
Last Tuesday, a smart, bipartisan bill for comprehensive immigration reform moved ahead toward a full vote in the Senate — and that vote could happen in just a matter of weeks.
Unlike six years ago, anti-immigrant conservatives have so far been unable to derail reform.
If there was ever a time to get off the sidelines and immerse yourself in the debate, it’s now.
Hear from SEIU members from around the country as they share their personal stories about why they are building our movement for immigration reform.
Then get on the phone to tell your Senator you support commonsense immigration reform: http://action.seiu.org/calls4cir
Fixing our broken system to reunite families
“My brother is able to acquire visas to visit countries such as Australia and New Zealand twice a year. It is beyond shocking to me that he is unable to get a visa to come here to the United States to visit his 90-year old mother. There should be a clear and fair process for reuniting our families.”
– Sylvia Fatima Aho, Washington state caregiver and SEIU Healthcare 775NW member.
A path to citizenship for 11 million
“In Haiti, I was fighting for my country to be like America. But when I got here, every day became a struggle to survive in this country of freedom and liberty. For me, it was nearly 10 years living in the shadows. For others, it’s been 30 or 40.”
– Davidson Dessois, Miami, FL taxi driver and security officer; member of SEIU 32BJ
Why we must share our stories
“As a nurse, I see daily the unsafe living and work conditions that many people experience. And I see the wear and tear of those conditions weighing on people’s health. Turning a blind eye on aspiring citizens is not the solution. ”
– Pat Diaz, RN, member of 1199SEIU Florida.
Getting out the real facts about immigration
“My main goal is to inform my fellow union members about the facts and then dispel any misinformation they may have about immigrants. I tell people immigrants contribute $300 million every year to the state in sales and property taxes alone. That gets the attention of state employees, that’s for sure.”
– CJ Stephens, retired North Carolina state trooper and SEANC member.
Keeping families together
“It’s been more than 15 years since I’ve seen my kids. I’m very proud they continue to studying and are fulfilling the dreams I had coming to this country, but at the same time, my heart is very broken because I haven’t been able to be with them.”
– Victoria Márquez, an LA janitor and SEIU USW-W member and organizer.
Correcting a system that allows racism and discrimination to flourish
“Some people consider immigrants not even as second-class, probably even a third or fourth class. When you have an attitude of hate like that, it’s basically the same thing that I grew up with in Texas. Immigrants come in all colors and we are all looking basically for the same thing.”
– Roy Tyler, member of SEIU United Service Workers West
Now it’s time to make your voice heard. Really and truly, there is no bigger impact you can have during this momentous debate than to make phone calls to your member(s) of Congress. We make it easy for you – just click here to be connected with your Senator.
Be sure to tell him or her that you support commonsense immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. Make the call now.