by Héctor Figueroa
President, 32BJ SEIU
Brothers and sisters, I am incredibly proud. For months 32BJ members have been a purple force up and down the East Coast — from Massachusetts all the way down to Florida. You knocked on thousands of doors, made thousands of phone calls, turned out in heat and rain and cold. You talked to co-workers, neighbors and family members about why politics matters, and how we as working people united in the labor movement can make real and substantial change when we come out to vote and come out strong for politics.
We won tough gubernatorial races in Connecticut and Pennsylvania and we re-elected our candidate in New York. We won paid sick leave in two cities in New Jersey and in Massachusetts. We elected mayors in Providence, Rhode Island, Washington DC, and the Bergen County Executive in New Jersey. We added strong candidates to the Washington DC City Council and to the Virginia and New Hampshire state senates. We even elected one of our own – 32BJ member political organizer Antonio Barnes – to Washington DC’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission!
And most importantly we are poised to raise the minimum wage across our states and in our cities. We are ready to pass local immigration reform measures that will support students, families and communities. We are ready to fight for full funding of our school systems so that we are finally able to take care of our kids the way we want.
Our political work has strengthened the support we need to organize thousands of low-wage airport workers who are fighting for dignity and respect. We’ve expanded our foundation for fighting for fast-food workers and other low wage workers. Our political wins will help us continue to raise standards for security officers in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
And in all our states we have Councilmembers, Mayors, House and Assemblymembers who have our back as we move into our largest and most challenging contract campaign for 75,000 cleaners across 32BJ.
But our work is not done. We weren’t able to fight back challengers in Florida, Massachusetts, and Maryland, and we were not able to take back the New York Senate. And while states across the US voted to raise the minimum wage — including places like Arkansas and Nebraska — the United States Senate is now majority Republican, as is the House of Representatives, and the likelihood of progress on a national level seems less likely than before.
And so we take from our setbacks important lessons: organize early, stay focused on the issues, engage as many people as we can on the things that matter. Election results vary from year to year, but the need to rebuild our economy and provide a path for working people remains. I am confident that together we will grow stronger and smarter, and will win for working families and communities going forward. I know I can count on you to show up, stand up, speak up and fight back. Thank you for all your work.
Si se puede!