Issued August 11, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC - Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members from coast to coast today celebrated Joe Biden’s selection of California Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate, citing it as further evidence that a Biden administration would fight for racial and economic justice, and a more inclusive future for America’s working families. Harris has a long relationship with service and care workers in her home state of California, where 700,000 frontline workers in healthcare, public sector and property services are united in SEIU. As a senator she has been a champion for care workers, fought to hold corporations like McDonald’s accountable and advocated for a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
“Kamala Harris knows that too many working people of all races were struggling to succeed even before the pandemic,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “As the first woman of color on a major party ticket, she feels this in her bones and throughout her career has always stood up to make America a place where everyone can succeed. She advocates for working people, like when she marched with Fight for $15 and a Union leaders to demand a $15 minimum wage and a union and fought back against the Trump administration when they tried to silence women of color and immigrant women who wanted to join together in a union. Sen. Harris and Joe Biden make a great team because they both hold in their core a belief that we need to restore the soul of our nation so that we can tackle the coronavirus pandemic and the long-standing economic and racial inequality that it has exacerbated. Together, they will help make us a more just society. SEIU’s two million members are ready to turn their outrage, energy and hope into votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to lead our country.”
Three weeks ago, Biden released a plan to make caregivers a key part of America’s recovery from coronavirus and a pillar of how we can build back better, safer and more sustainably than before, not return to the status quo. Harris has long valued service and care work, introducing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and fighting to make these good, union jobs that will build the most inclusive middle class in America’s history.
Jeffrey Ravago, a certified nursing assistant from Oakland and member of SEIU Local 2015 said: “As a frontline worker who has seen people die from COVID-19, I know how critical it is for our next President and Vice President to properly address this crisis. Senator Harris has been a champion for caregivers even before the world called us heroes. She knows we can’t truly improve the long-term care industry without addressing the low wages, lack of benefits and basic worker protections, and inadequate training that hold us back. Senator Harris is a leader we can count on.”
Harris has long stood with women of color who are fighting to make their voices heard, including the 45,000 child care providers in California who just won a 17 year long fight to form their union. Child care is a key part of the Biden plan to strengthen our caregiving economy.
“Senator Harris believes that we can judge a society based on how it treats its children and the resources it puts into collectively caring for our children,” said Patricia Moran, a SEIU Local 521 member and one of the child care providers who recently won their union. “She was on our side throughout our long struggle and knows the difference it makes for our entire society when our children are cared for.”
In late July, Harris spent the day with Delores McDaniel, a Detroit security officer who has been fighting to form a union. Harris visited McDaniel in her home on the outskirts of Detroit before riding the bus downtown with her and seeing how service and care workers have been left out of the city’s rebuilding.
“Senator Harris was the first elected official to hear my story and realize what we as security officers truly go through each and every day,” said McDaniel. “We talked about how unions built this country. We talked about what it’s like to be at the mercy of a corporation that refuses to give me and my coworkers the basic dignity of recognizing our union. She really listened to be and valued what I had to say. And I know she’ll do that with every American as vice president.”
Since January, SEIU’s voter engagement program has made nearly 1.6 million phone calls, sent more than 6.8 million texts, and knocked more than 250,000 doors, prior to suspending the door knocking campaign due to COVID-19. SEIU’s voter engagement and Get Out the Vote efforts focus on turning out members, their families and communities, and expanding the electorate by turning out infrequent Black, Latino and Asian American Pacific Islander voters. Adjusting to the new reality posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, SEIU has combined its deep expertise in organizing both online and off to connect with voters in multiple languages. Hundreds of member political organizers are being deployed full time to recruit additional volunteers and talk to their coworkers about making their plan to vote.