Issued April 17, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, in response to their appointments to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Taskforce on Business and Jobs Recovery, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry and SEIU Local 2015 President April Verrett released the following statements. Governor Newsom’s Taskforce will look at job creation, the future of work, and ensuring the health and safety of all workers with a special focus on some of the sectors and regions hardest hit to draw on California's strengths toward recovery. President Henry is also co-chair of California’s Future of Work Commission. 700,000 Californians are united in SEIU across the public, healthcare and property service sectors.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry’s statement:
“Essential workers across this country, healthcare, public sector, airport, janitorial, gig and fast food, have stayed on the job through this crisis to keep our families and communities safe and running. They continued to work for us at great personal risk and while struggling to care for themselves and their families. This crisis made clear the value of these workers in our economy and daily lives and it exposed what was already there, the incredible economic insecurity and systemic racism these workers face every day. As co-chair of California’s Future of Work Commission, I am honored to join Governor Newsom’s Taskforce on Business and Jobs Recovery, to bring the voices of working people of all races to our thinking for the future.
"Make no mistake, the future of work is here. We can not rebuild a California for all on the existing foundation of precarious, insecure work that doesn’t pay people enough or provide for basic rights and protections. Once again, Governor Newsom’s visionary leadership has brought thinking together across the spectrum to help California lead the way and together, we can rebuild a future that creates sustainable, inclusive prosperity for all.”
SEIU Local 2015 President April Verrett’s Statement
“I am honored to be asked to serve on Governor Newsom’s Taskforce on Business and Jobs Recovery to be a voice that helps ensure that the economic recovery from this pandemic prioritizes and centers around working families. We have an opportunity to craft an economic recovery that strengthens our state by addressing the decades of inequities and structural deficits that have created the disparate impacts COVID has had on the lives of workers, our communities of color, and our immigrant brothers and sisters.
"Out of this terrible crisis, there is the option of a better future. One built on an appreciation and recognition of what is truly essential to each of us and our country. If we choose to use this moment to build the type of economy, community and country we can all be proud of, then this terrible moment will not have been in vain. I plan to bring an organizer's eye to the tasks ahead to build a response and recovery that empowers communities to be a part of a better tomorrow.”
Mary Kay Henry
International President, Service Employees International Union
For over a decade, Mary Kay Henry has served as International President of the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The first woman elected to this position, Mary Kay leads rooted in the belief that when working people join together, no matter what our color or where we come from, we can build a more inclusive economy and society for everyone. She began her career in California where she spent 24 years fighting for healthcare workers across the Golden State. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Henry to serve as co-chair of California’s Future of Work Commission tasked with developing a new social compact for California workers.
Under Mary Kay’s leadership, SEIU members have won job improvements for healthcare, property services, and public sector workers across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Henry’s decision to back the courageous fast-food workers and other service and care workers in the historic "Fight for $15 and a Union" movement has helped 24 million working Americans win wage increases. Since then, Fast Company magazine named her one of the 100 most creative leaders in the economy and Politico magazine named her one of the top 50 visionaries reshaping American politics.
Henry also serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the democratic federation of labor unions, Change to Win, which unites more than 4.5 million workers nationally and she sits on the Board of Directors for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Economic Policy Institute. Mary Kay Henry earned her bachelor's degree from Michigan State University in 1979 where she majored in urban planning and labor relations.
President, SEIU Local 2015
April Verrett serves as President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 2015 - the nation’s largest long term care union representing 400,000 home care and nursing home workers throughout California. Before being President, April served as an Executive Vice President of Local 2015 and was instrumental in its creation when long term care workers throughout California united for greater strength.
Prior to Local 2015, April served as Executive Vice President of SEIU, Healthcare Illinois and Indiana (HCII). HCII is the largest union of healthcare workers in the Midwest, representing 92,000 hospital, nursing home, home care workers and child care providers across Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas.
April is also a Vice President on SEIU International’s Executive Board, Chairs SEIU’s Home Care Council, and serves on SEIU’s Racial Justice Committee, Building a Wider Movement Committee and Finance Committee as well as Governor Newsom’s Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force.
As a labor leader and activist, April has spent most of her career helping workers form unions to ensure that their voices are heard and respected. April is a tireless advocate for working people, driven by the belief that “unions give workers a platform to fight for more than wages, benefits and working conditions, but also around everything that matters in our members’ lives and their communities.”