SEIU 721 Celebrates Labor Day across Southern California
This Labor Day, SEIU 721 members and their families celebrated across Southern California.
The region's largest event drew thousands of union members and their families to the 33rd annual Labor Solidarity Parade in Wilmington, near the Port of Los Angeles. Because of the ongoing attacks targeting working people both statewide and nationally, this year's theme was "Stop the war on workers."
Dozens of unions, high school marching bands and grass-roots organizations lined up early in the morning to honor American workers.
SEIU 721 members and supporters donned purple SEIU shirts to show union pride and unity in the parade. LA city and county workers marched together, chanting "From Wisconsin to LA, tax the rich ... make them pay" as harbor area residents waved in support.
Los Angeles airport custodian Miguel Ortega said that he marched to "show that I support my union. The union keeps our jobs secure and fights to win better salaries and benefits."
LA city trash and wastewater trucks joined the 721 contingent, decorated in banners that read, "Don't trash our future. Secure retirement for public workers."
After the parade, people filed into Banning Park for food, music and speakers, like SEIU 721 President Bob Schoonover.
"In the 50s and 60s, unions represented 33 percent of the workforce. Workers were respected," Schoonover said. "Even workers not in unions benefited from the pay scale that the unions negotiated. Today, labor represents less than 10 percent of all workers. After we beat this thing [Prop 32], we all have to do what's necessary ... organize more workers!"
Tri-Counties SEIU 721 members participated in three different Labor Day events. Joined by family and community, members marched in the Santa Paula Labor Day Parade. Members were also joined by pro-labor candidates: Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (running for Congressional District 26), Assemblyman Das Williams (running for re-election) and Senate District 19 candidate Hannah-Beth Jackson.
After the parade, members also attended the Working Blue Democratic Party Labor Day Picnic in Camarillo. The themes of the picnic were clear: supporting labor is the best way to build a strong middle class, and we need to defeat Prop 32. No on 32 signs were all over the picnic grounds and candidates spoke out against it.
Some members, like Carolina Gonzalez and Rosa Castro, went to all three Labor Day events. The third event was the Santa Barbara Democratic Party's Labor Day Picnic.
"It felt good to be a part of the Labor Day events with SEIU and to do some education on Props 30 and 32."
Carolina Gonzalez, Court Accountant, Ventura Courts