1199SEIU members from across New Jersey headed to Montclair State University on Sunday, September 8th to show 1199 pride at an energetic campaign event for Senator Barbara Buono and Milly Silva, who are running on the Democratic ticket for Governor and Lt. Governor. Silva, who serves as 1199SEIU’s Executive Vice President for the New Jersey region, was selected by Senator Buono in July to be her running mate, creating the first all-female gubernatorial ticket ever in New Jersey and only the third in the nation’s history.

“Barbara and Milly care about the working class and the struggles that our families are going through,” said Vilma Jones, an 1199SEIU member who works as a licensed practical nurse at Regency Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Somerset. “I’m here today because we need to build momentum and get the word out to our friends and neighbors and make sure they vote!”

Houlda Wiltshire, a 1199SEIU retiree who worked as a certified nursing assistant for 37 years, said her inspiration to come to the rally was her strong conviction that Buono and Silva will stand up for the rights of seniors. “They understand our needs and will make New Jersey more livable for retired people on fixed incomes” she said.

Hundreds of union members, students, and activists packed the university auditorium to hear the candidates speak on a range of issues that matter to working families—from increasing college affordability to restoring funding for women’s health centers to raising New Jersey’s minimum wage.

Headlining the event was Kerry Washington, the award-winning actress who, as star of the hit TV show Scandal, is the first African American woman to be the lead on a network television show since 1974. Washington is a passionate activist and was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She is also an active member of the V Council, an organization committed to stopping violence against women.

“When I do this kind of work, I’m not coming to the table as a celebrity. I’m coming to the table as someone who understands that I only have the rights that I have because people fought very hard for me to have those rights,” said Washington, who referenced the civil rights icon Susan B. Anthony, the pioneer for women’s suffrage in the 19th century.

“I care very deeply about my fellow Americans and I know that for this state to move in the right direction—for this state to have the leadership it deserves—this state needs to come out and support, volunteer, donate and vote for Buono-Silva.”

Milly Silva took to the stage and made a forceful critique of Governor Chris Christie, citing among other things, his refusal to support legislation that would promote equal pay for women, who currently earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. “Equal pay for equal work has to become a reality in New Jersey and our country and we have to hold Chris Christie accountable to the fact that when he was given the opportunity to sign legislation that would allow for equal pay for equal work—what did he call it? ‘Senseless bureaucracy,’” Silva told the crowd.

“Here in New Jersey, in the face of a conservative movement that seeks to take our state away from us, we have to be the ones to reclaim it and move New Jersey forward!” Silva said.

Senator Buono spoke passionately about her plan to restore economic opportunities that have been lost to working families. “You know what? I’ve lived here my whole life and this is not the New Jersey I grew up in,” Buono said. “It’s time. Oh, it’s time. It’s time for us to stand up and speak out and take back New Jersey!” Buono said to roaring applause.

1199ers left the event with a renewed sense of urgency and readiness to take action in the final eight weeks before Election Day on November 5th. Starting Saturday, September 28th, members will be volunteering their weekends to knock on doors, make phone calls, and get the word about the Buono-Silva campaign in their communities. For more information, contact your organizer or call the union office at 732.287.8113.

- See more at: http://www.1199seiu.org/1199ers_join_award_winning_actress_kerry_washington_in_galvanizing_support_for_the_buono_silva_ticket_in_new_jersey#sthash.CzuBw40Y.dpuf