Washington, D.C. – Members of the Service Employees International (SEIU) Maryland/DC State Council announced their endorsement of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray at a press conference today, touting their trust in Gray’s ability to continue passing laws that improve life for immigrants and working families. Through direct mail, media efforts, member outreach, knocking on doors and making phone calls, SEIU has played a vital role in many important elections in the District.
“Mayor Gray’s track record for strengthening responsible contracting laws and helping immigrants lead more productive lives speaks louder than campaign promises,” said Jaime Contreras, SEIU Maryland/DC State Council President and Vice President for 32BJ. “As D.C.’s population grows wealthier, low-wage workers and immigrants need a reliable ally now more than ever.”
When the District’s financially troubled security contractor went belly up in 2009, about 900 public school security officers were left without a paycheck. Taxpayers even footed the bill for National Guard and MPD protection at public schools when the city’s former security company collapsed. As Mayor, Gray worked with the City Council to strengthen D.C.’s responsible contracting laws and help the Council’s use its oversight to ensure procurement officials followed the law. As a result, the District’s facilities are safer and the security officers who keep us safe don’t have to worry whether their employer will make payroll.
“Mayor Gray understands how important it is for janitors like me and security officers to work for responsible contractors,” said Maurice Thomas, a 32BJ member who’s worked at the Department of Justice for the last 24 years. “Making sure employers follow contracting rules means we are paid livable wages with benefits, and on time!”
“Thousands in my community are now able to work, shop, go to church and take part in our communities,” said Rufina Pereira, a D.C. office cleaner and 32BJ member from El Salvador with temporary protected status (TPS). Pereira and Contreras spoke at Mayor Gray’s 2013 press conference introducing the District of Columbia Drivers Safety Amendment Act of 2013, historic legislation, signed into law to make undocumented district residents eligible for driver’s licenses.
“The District has made some amazing steps forward in the last four years and much of that has been due to the able leadership of Mayor Vincent Gray,” said Lee Blackmon District of Columbia NAGE-National Representative. “Mayor Gray has been at the forefront of reestablishing the diminished relationship with labor by collaborating in partnership with District workers on a numerous citywide initiatives.”
The SEIU Maryland and D.C. State Council represent nearly 45,000 members in the areas of health care, public services, education, property services and the non-profit sector who are united to help improve the workplace and lives of not only SEIU members, but working families across the region. With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.
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