When I accepted the role of Executive Vice President of 1199’s Maryland-DC region this January, I made a commitment to stand up and fight for you—to fight for fair contracts, and fairness and dignity in your shops. I also made a commitment to all workers in this region—whether they are Union members or not. We all deserve living wages, affordable healthcare, strong schools, and safe neighborhoods for our families to live in.
But some of us in the labor movement don’t understand how powerful unions can be. 1199SEIU is about more than just settling grievances. When you joined this Union, you signed your name to an organization with a strong civil rights legacy that helped build the middle class and give working people a voice in our shops and in politics. You signed on to join a movement. And as part of that movement, we must commit to caring for our neighbors, fighting for justice, and getting involved in our local politics.
As a part of this movement, it’s also critical that we pay attention to the news so we understand the seriousness of the attacks against unions. Conservative politicians are working nonstop to dismantle labor, passing so-called “right to work” laws and punishing workers for trying to organize in their shops. This is why the national “Fight for $15” is so inspiring: workers in our region and around the country are taking a stand against wage theft and unsafe working conditions—even in the face of opposition. Already, workers are banding together to win higher minimum wages, and earning respect for the physically and mentally difficult work that they do.
I urge you to support those workers fighting for their lives—and to never take our Union membership for granted. We may already be Union members, but it’s a membership that we must fight to protect.
Executive Vice President, 1199SEIU Maryland-DC Region