Local 1000 Members Amplify Racial Justice Conversation
For years, our Union has been engaged with training members and staff in dismantling structural racism and working to develop an equity lens.
We have worked on developing career mobility opportunities across units with state departments and in our Local 1000 apprenticeship work. And SEIU International has created the Racial Justice Center to help integrate the racial justice resolutions passed at our international conventions every four years.
SEIU has placed racial justice at the forefront because race is far too often and far too easily used as a wedge to divide workers. Racism hurts all of us—morally and ethically as well as financially—whether it takes place at work or in the community. As a result, we can’t have economic justice for all without racial justice.
However, overt acts of racism continue to flourish, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to kill Black and Brown people at a higher rate, low-wage workers—disproportionately people of color—continue to be removed from voting rolls, ex-felons in Florida who had been given the right to vote by the voting public continue to be kept from doing so thanks to a confusing poll tax, and hate crimes continue to spike across the country.
George Floyd’s videotaped murder on May 25th at the hands of the very people paid to protect him sparked a nation-wide response and helped galvanize people to rally together and stand against racism, hate, and sanctioned violence.
In response, Local 1000 created a space to connect, to share, to strategize, and to heal—a space for members to process and reflect on their thoughts about our past, our present, and our future.
Each Friday, President Yvonne R. Walker hosts what member Gwen Crawford describes as an “enlightening and thought provoking” 90-minute Zoom call open to all Local 1000 union members and staff to listen, learn, and build the leadership skills needed to strengthen our movement for racial justice and dismantle structural racism.
“We’re provided articles and current events to reflect upon, and I personally have learned a lot and feel more informed as I process my role as a Union leader,” Crawford adds. “It has made me aware of how deep and wide wealth inequality, access to resources, and discrimination is built into our laws and governance.”
Eight months after its inception, the call has become a weekly staple. “The discussions are cathartic for me,” says member Imani Dhahabu. “They’re a good forum for venting frustration, expressing gratitude, and exchanging ideas on how to take action.”
“At the end of each of our discussions I’m left with a deeper and more authentic knowledge of our nation’s history, and more importantly the history of black women and men who continue to struggle with prejudice, inequality and inequity,” adds member leader Ruth Kiker. “I am grateful to be part of such a meaningful group.”
Yet, the recent insurrection of January 6, 2021 points to the challenge we face. As Reverend Dr. William J. Barber has highlighted so eloquently about the Southern Strategy, we need to eliminate racism and build power for working people not simply to create a more just economy, but to redistribute wealth more effectively, invest more in public services, strengthen the ability for working people to join unions, protect voting rights, alter the path of climate change, and promote environmental justice.
Our next call is Friday, January 29, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. To register, click here.