We have to work together so we’re able to keep the things we have, like our health care and other benefits.

~ Jay Etheridge, 32BJ Member, New York

Maurice Thomas

District: Division:
http://www.seiu32bj.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/MauriceThomas-wpcf_540x360.jpg

Maurice has been a union member for 30 years, 23 of which he’s spent working at the Department of Justice in Washington DC. He was leading a lunchtime Bible study group at his worksite when his coworkers asked him to represent them in the union.

 I’ve done all of it– political work, organizing. Everything we need Member Political Organizers (MPOs) or stewards to do, I’ve done it. I was in the Tidewater region of Virginia in the recent election. Political action is important to all of us. It’s very important to get officials elected who care about healthcare, who care about education for our family members, who about our wages and Social Security.

So how did Maurice sign up so many contributors?

 At first, my coworkers were not too sure about ADF. What helped them to understand the importance of it was when we related it to our families. When I think about the American Dream Fund I think about the American dream. All of us want good jobs, to own a home and have security on the job. The way that ADF works is that we, as members, pay a small amount to contribute to the American Dream Fund that supports elected officials that support our issues. And it works. For example, in our building in Washington DC when a new contractor comes in they have to pick up the workers in our building because of the Displaced Workers Act that was passed into law and protects contractor jobs. After sharing that victory, my coworkers began to understand that this is very important to us.

Maurice emphasizes the importance of all members to be involved in the union.

 I think every shop steward should be training someone else and that person can be training someone else too. At my shop we make sure every member really knows the contract, really knows how the worker-supervisor relationship works. We go over the contract. We talk about ADF. We talk about politics. We have one of the strongest shops in the federal buildings in DC and I think the reason why we’re so strong is because of how engaged we are in the union. Recently we did a solidarity action at the IRS building that was across the street from us. Our union chairperson called me and said, ‘We need your members to come out.’ We came out and they were surprised to see all of us. We know the importance of unity.

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