There are four pillars to a strong union.
Four pillars that give us the combined strength to win better pay, protect our benefits, defend ourselves from unfair firings and defeat politicians that try to cut corners and cut our wages.
Each pillar is an action we have to take, both individually and collectively.
Respect, Commit, Educate and Advocate.
We must respect our own work and we must demand respect from politicians and management for our contributions.
We have to commit to our union, to building our combined strength and to standing with each other. When politicians and bosses attack one us, it is an attack on all of us.
We have to educate ourselves about the threat that we face, but we also have to educate our communities. Do our friends, family and neighbors know how each of us is making this nation stronger and better?
Finally, we cannot be afraid to advocate for our interests and the interests of those we serve. An adjunct professor once told me that adjunct teaching conditions are student learning conditions. This principle can be applied to all of us. But if we don’t speak up for ourselves, we risk being steamrolled by events.
What unites all four pillars is that they depend on you, the members of SEIU Local 500. No one can do it for you. This union is only as strong as the level of commitment and the level of engagement of its members.
Don’t wait to be asked. Step forward, step up and Respect, Commit, Educate and Advocate. And when you have done that, turn to your colleagues and remind them that if they don’t join you, they are hurting your own ability to win the wages, benefits and protections that you deserve.
We are all counting on each other because Together We Rise.
Thank you for everything that you do.
President, SEIU Local 500