SEIU Convention: 'As if I Had Found Distant Family Members'
I arrived in Denver for the SEIU International Convention on a Sunday morning, alone and interested in learning what our union has to offer. At the airport I was amazed to see all the purple shirts welcoming us to Denver and helping to get us to our hotel. That Sunday afternoon I attended my first Latino Caucus meeting and delegate orientation. That night I ate dinner at a local restaurant alone, anticipating the long days in front of me. This was the last opportunity that I had to think by myself. That night I meet my roommate, who was full of energy and excitement, and really helped make my trip an experience that I will never forget.
The next morning I was introduced to so many people that were great representatives of Local 721. I immediately was accepted and felt at home with them all. The meetings were long, powerful and inspiring. Everyone had purple on. We were no longer just people. We all addressed each other as brother and sister. Speaker after speaker spoke of hardships that they and their locals are going though. It was amazing to see that all across the country, people were experiencing similar problems.
At the convention, we elected a great representative to be our president--Mary Kay Henry. She spoke with passion and treated people with respect. There were also two surprises that I was not expecting. The first was a conference call that President Obama made to all of us at the convention. Second was the opportunity for the millennials (delegates under 35) to hear Jesse Jackson speak and ask him questions. Mary Kay really made sure to set the tone of the convention, which was to ignite unity to make the 1% pay their fair share. One Tuesday morning we took action throughout the streets of Denver. We all marched to Wells Fargo and forced them to hear the voices of the 99%. We are the 99%!
My experience in Denver really showed me that the union is not only about representing us against our supervisors. It includes political action that will help all of the 99% to achieve a higher standard of living. We, as members, are the union, and the union is only as strong as its members. It was great to see the programs set up to help the millennial generation get involved in the union. It inspired me so much that I want to help now with getting more millennial members involved and spread ingthe knowledge of all the different caucuses we have to offer.
Just like we chanted throughout the convention, we must "get up, stand up, stand up for our rights." Get involved in our union and increase political contributions. t I have seen first-hand the power and influence that we can have with all of our voices combined. We need to unite to continue the fight to improve wages, improve health care, stop home foreclosures, support immigration reform, hold politicians responsible, place union members and union supporters in power, and make the 1% pay their fair share.
The people that I met there were amazing and supportive. It was great to see how passionate people are about trying to help people for the greater cause. I arrived in Denver alone but left as if I had found distant family members.
City of Los Angeles Gardener/Caretaker