Blanche Norwood, CNA, is Voting for the Freedom to Protect Workers’ RightsOctober 10, 2018
Blanche Norward is a certified nursing assistant, member political organizer and a great grandmother. When she started working at a nursing home in Miami in 1975, a gallon of gas cost 44 cents, the average cost of a home was around $39,000 and portable cassette players and recorders were all the rage. Big changes also occurred at her job over the past 43 years. Her starting pay was just $3 per hour, but she united with her co-workers to form a union and secure better wages, and now she makes $17 per hour. Working conditions have also improved.
But she fears that many hard-fought wins over the years to ensure workers have a voice on the job may be in jeopardy because of litigation and legislation that seeks to weaken unions. Many of her experienced colleagues in hospitals and nursing homes still don’t make $15 per hour despite decades of service. In the past, Norwood had to work ten straight days and even help out in the kitchen. She and her colleagues were able to right these wrongs by joining together in a union.
“The union difference was clear to me back then and now,” said Norward. “Not only did our pay increase, but our working conditions at the nursing home also improved when we mobilized together through 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. This experience taught me that workers can make positive changes when they unite. It’s why I now dedicate my time to help get out the vote so we can support candidates who will protect our right to a union.”
This election is critically important to Norwood and so many other hardworking Floridians who want to protect their freedoms. From union rights to better wages, and quality, affordable health care, these and other essential freedoms hang in the balance if we don’t support candidates who support working families. That’s why Norwood is reaching out to voters and urging them to make their voices heard at the polls.
“I like to be a servant in any capacity,” said Norwood. “Whether I am serving members of a congregation at church, members in our union or voters in my community, I find it gratifying to know I can give people the information they need to make good informed choices.”
This isn’t the first time Norwood has been involved in politics. She has worked on several local, state and national campaigns. Norwood has also taken on leadership roles with 1199SEIU. She has served as a delegate and an organizer. Her organizing work at hospitals and nursing homes has helped many underpaid and overworked caregivers gain a voice on the job and better wages.
“Generations who came before us risked their lives to fight for workers’ rights,” said Norwood. “These rights are now at risk because of politicians who are beholden to greedy CEOs who stand to profit from keeping workers overworked and underpaid. We can fight back by showing our power at the polls and voting for candidates who support union rights.”
You can join Norwood and your other union brothers and sisters who are helping to get out the vote. Go to 1199seiu.org/floridaelections to sign up to volunteer.