President’s Corner – From the December 2015 Newsletter

December is a time for celebration for many of us, as we sit down with family and loved ones and count our blessings.
As union members, we are blessed compared to colleagues in our industries who do not enjoy the benefits and protections of union contracts.
But this is also a time a year for giving back and for reflection.
Local 500 has always been committed to helping other educators, caregivers and activists achieve the same security and benefits we enjoy. We have organized over a dozen new employers over the last five years. As a result, thousands more workers are protected by a union contract.
We do it because it is the right thing, but we also do it because it is in our best interest.
I have spoken a lot recently about the importance of having 100% union workplaces and how greater membership means a stronger voice and more power for you at your school or worksite.
The same is also true when we talk about expanding and adding new workplaces and industries to the Local 500 family.
This union began with a single employer: Montgomery County Public Schools. In fact, my father helped organize his fellow supporting services employees in the school system and I was a secretary in what is now the school system’s Office of School Support and Improvement.
But, as unions came under increasing attack and national membership levels declined, Local 500 was becoming isolated and our political power was slipping away. We needed to grow.
So when we responded to what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature,” we not only improved the lives of thousands of people across Maryland and the District of Columbia – we grew the political power of ALL of the members of SEIU Local 500.
Politicians understand that when the members of this union speak today, we are not speaking for a narrow group of workers. We are speaking on behalf of over twenty thousand people. As the largest and fastest growing union of educators, activists and caregivers in the Mid-Atlantic, we have become something greater than ourselves. We have become more than a union; we have become a movement and a united voice that cannot be ignored.
Earlier, I said this was a time for reflection. I hope you will take a moment to reflect on how we have made ourselves stronger by giving back to others. By expanding the benefits of union membership to our new brothers and sisters, we have made ourselves stronger and the blessings we extended to others are returned to us all.
Thank you for all that you do.

Merle Cuttitta
President, SEIU Local 500
Merle Cuttitta press conference
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