So, SEIU Me
New York City
Three years ago, very few people anticipated the complete and worldwide collapse of the economy. Our nation lost $17 trillion, a quarter of its wealth, virtually overnight. Every industrialized nation is now faced with impossible choices and deep cuts that slice right to the heart of the hard-won gains, both tangible and social, that progressives and trade unionists have fought for.
Max Fraser, in his provocative article “The SEIU Andy Stern Leaves Behind” [July 5], asks many of the right questions but ultimately misses a key point: over the past fifteen years, SEIU accomplished something extraordinary. At a time when the American labor movement was shrinking, SEIU united more than 1.2 million workers in the union, doubling its size and the ability of those workers to make real and, one hopes, lasting gains on the job.
Fraser’s critique really speaks to the heart of what all working people face as a threat: the collapse of the social welfare system and the failure of capitalism to protect the fundamental security of those who work for a living. And that’s why SEIU’s executive board spent three days recently addressing the crisis that workers face right now and planning forward.
We know that we cannot go it alone, because for all our union’s progress in organizing and in politics, today we see the economic crisis destroying not only our jobs and our communities but also the standards we have worked so hard to achieve. Our decisions:
§ SEIU will continue working with partners in the labor, progressive and religious communities to march with workers through the streets to the doorsteps of very big banks that have been bad actors and have brought about this economic collapse.
§ SEIU will challenge the CEOs, politicians and even Democratic lobbyists who are helping those deemed “too big to fail” to continue to fail us.
§ SEIU will keep standing, marching and getting arrested with our coalition partners seeking justice for immigrants while at the same time we end the shadow economy that allows unscrupulous business owners to profit at the expense of all workers.
§ SEIU will participate in the global efforts to hold multinational corporations like Sodexo accountable for how they treat the women and men who work for them.
§ And SEIU will continue to fight day and night to see that workers—both in unions and not—are not forced to bear the burden of recovery alone.
There is no question that working people would be in much better shape if more workers were in unions, and we will continue our efforts to make sure that all workers who want a voice on the job are able to unite. The easy part is recognizing the obvious: none of us have solved the problem that working people face each and every day. The challenge for us all is not just to imagine but also to realize a future that restores our economy and rewards work.