SEIU President Mary Kay Henry
Since my election in May 2010, I have had the honor of joining the celebration of inspiring victories that have moved us forward, even in these toughest of times for working families. I am grateful for the legacy of leadership provided by Andy Stern and Anna Burger, who worked so hard to build a strong and powerful voice for SEIU members. And I am grateful for the guidance, faith and optimism that I encounter in every corner of our union.
We’ve accomplished so much this year. From our work at the forefront of the struggle for historic legislation that brought healthcare within reach of 32 million more Americans, to our commitment to restoring and strengthening relationships with labor and community partners, we have made tremendous strides. Once again, we proved that we can unite to turn out our communities at the polls, to stand as “One Nation Working Together,” and to help thousands more workers have a voice.
We’ve shown that billions of dollars in profits pale in comparison to the collective heart of the 2.2 million nurses, janitors, home care aides, bus drivers and other members of our union who hold firm the belief that hard work must be rewarded with good jobs with decent wages and benefits–and respect.
Yet, despite all of our efforts, times remain tough for most of our nation. One in six Americans is out of work. Every minute, two more families face foreclosure. Every 20 seconds, another American files for bankruptcy. And tonight, nearly one in four kids will go to bed hungry.
We are at a critical moment. The middle class continues to shrink while the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us continues to grow. Unless we unite as never before, American workers will lose their most dependable and powerful vehicle for change–a strong labor movement.
We need to come together around a plan to confront the crisis facing workers, to be the solution, and to take on the corporate interests and the politicians who want abundance for themselves, and scarcity for the rest of us. We must do things we’ve never tried before, move past our comfort zone, and inspire working people across the country to demand fairness. Above all, we need to step up and play the unique role that SEIU can play in building a broad movement for the positive change our country needs.
I’m confident we are up to the task. Over the years, we’ve proven time and time again that we are willing to stand up and insist on the common good for all working families. It’s that time again.