Pride In Our Victories & Vigilance To Protect Them

June 9, 2016

This issue of "Our Life & Times" arrives as many of our sisters and brothers in the LGBTQ community are celebrating Pride Month. And no doubt, we’ve made progress by winning Marriage Equality and the Affordable Care Act to address LGBTQ healthcare disparities. And it’s also just after the close of our SEIU Convention in Detroit, where our International Union resolved wholly new and strategic ways to confront the fights for racial and economic justice. (There will be more on the Convention in the next issue.) But as too many of us know, with every step of progress comes the inevitable attack from the other side. North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed laws so bigoted that some major companies and entertainers refuse to have anything to do with the states. 1199 issued a quick condemnation, stating, “We believe that such laws have no place in our society.” These laws aren’t just hateful; the North Carolina legislation is actually a regressive Trojan Horse. It also prevents workers from suing for discrimination or municipalities from increasing their minimum wage above $7.25 an hour. We are also seeing the systematic expansion of voter suppression nationwide. “This issue is so important and that’s why we have to keep on pushing,” says Renee Neal, an oxygen tech at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, who has helped register formerly incarcerated felons to vote. And then there is Donald Trump. Pres. Gresham writes in his column: “The consequences of a Trump presidency should be a wake-up call for all of us. A narrow defeat for Trump is not enough. Our primary aim should be to not just defeat him, but to crush him and all that he represents. I am fully confident that we 1199ers are up to the task and ready to fight like never before. It’s not being overly dramatic to say our lives depend on it.”

In spite of so many obstacles, working people continue to be fearless. The opposition consistently underestimates us. In Florida—a ‘right to work’ state—700 members at Consulate nursing homes persisted in their fight for respect and better wages and in May won a contract. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” said CNA Rochelle Salcedo. “And this new starting wage sets a new standard in the state of Florida.” So we stand with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in June and working people across the country; the struggle gives us much to be proud of. And reminds us all how much we have to protect.