SEIU 721 Celebrates Latinx Heritage Month

Sisters and Brothers,

During Latinx Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) we recognize the contributions of our country’s 50 million Latinos, including our brothers and sisters here at SEIU 721. Latinos have helped shaped this country since Independence, and continue to shape its future!

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From the time that Bernardo de Gálvez, then-Governor of Louisiana, stopped the British advance on Washington, and David Farragut, for whom Farragut Square in the District of Columbia is named, was appointed the first Admiral of the Navy, Latinos have been making their mark in US history books.

In recent years, we’ve seen Latinos continue to make great strides in leadership and representation. We saw Sonia Sotomayor become the first Latina appointed to the Supreme Court. Hilda Solis served as Secretary of Labor and recently returned home to Los Angeles where she won a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. And former San Antonio Mayor, Julián Castro, became President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Over a decade ago, Latinos became the largest minority group in the United States, and two years ago, Latinos became the largest racial/ethnic group in California. The last time the percentage of Golden State Latino residents was so high was 1850, when California became part of the United States.

Unfortunately, despite these milestones, too many Latinos continue to live paycheck to paycheck. More than one in four (26.6 percent) live below the poverty line, while Latino workers suffer the highest occurrence of wage theft, are in the most danger of being killed on the job, and have the highest rate of uninsured family members.

These statistics are unacceptable and must change. While organizations like our Union continue to help organize workers to battle the injustice Latinos and others face in the workplace, through campaigns like the Fight For $15, Fix LA, Raise Up LA County, and similar efforts in the Inland Region and Tri-Counties, the other key solution to change is through civic engagement.

Over the past decade Latino voters have increased their political power and made a decisive impact in races at all levels, especially the 2012 presidential election. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials predicts that more Latino voters will take part in this November’s elections than cast ballots ever before. By becoming a powerful voting bloc to be reckoned with in all elections, Latinos will be key decision makers when it comes to electing representatives who will stand strong on Environmental Justice, Justice for Immigrants, Justice for LGBTIQ Communities, Racial Justice, Women’s Equality, and the Fight For $15 and a Union, for all those who call this country home, including the millions of undocumented US residents who continue to live in the shadows, subject to exploitation and abuse at work.

To see the change we need in LA, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Sacramento and Washington DC, and to advance our fight for social and economic justice, we need everyone in our movement, Latino and non-Latino, to register to vote today and make our voices heard on Election Day, and every day!

This November we have the opportunity to tackle structural racism, advance economic justice, stand up for immigrant rights, and move California forward on environmental justice! We have the numbers to make the difference in every race from the top of the ticket, all the way down to the smallest neighborhood seat, we have the power to pass or defeat any proposition or local measure. But we’ve got to register and we’ve got to Get Out The Vote!

You can register to vote online and learn about our SEIU endorsed candidates and Propositions by visiting

Never forget that we are stronger together! Together, we will win here in Southern California, we’ll win in our State Capitol, and we will win for our country. Together, we are unstoppable! Together we win!

In Unity,
Gilda Valdez

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