I decided that homecare was my calling after caring for my grandmother for six years. I saw how important it was for her to be able to live safely and independently in her home without worrying about getting her next meal, her medication, a bath, or even being institutionalized.
Now, I try to treat my current clients like I would my grandmother, as members of my family. I get this same sense of family here at the SEIU Convention Healthcare Division Day, with healthcare workers from all over the country, Canada and Puerto Rico coming together to strategize about how we can support each other.
If it wasn't for other homecare workers in another state, I wouldn't be a union member today. A few years ago, SEIU members in Illinois held out on their contract until my employer agreed to let workers in my home state, Indiana, join the union. My Illinois sisters and brothers could have just thought about themselves, but instead they sacrificed some of their short-term gains for the sake of me, my family and my co-workers. That means a lot to me. Because of them, we won a whole range of job improvements, including a fairer pay scale and job safety training. And now, the majority of workers at my homecare company are union, and we are all stronger because of it.
We need more of that sense of shared responsibility and sacrifice from our politicians and the 1%. In Indiana, anti-worker politicians are trying to cut Medicaid. This is a very personal, emotional topic for me, because I have two children, eleven and seven years old, and I do not want them to be uninsured. Without affordable healthcare for my kids, I would need to make decisions that no mother should be forced to make: should they have their shots or should I pay the rent? Should I go without groceries or go without heat? If my children injure themselves, should I try to fix them up the best I can at home or take them to the hospital?
It seems like politics is no longer about people. Politicians are only concerned about those at the top. We need to have more concern for each other in this country.
And that's what the SEIU convention is all about- making connections and empowering healthcare workers through a shared sense that we are all a family, that we're all in this together. I found out recently that some friends of mine working at non-union nursing homes only make seven or eight dollars an hour. As I sat in the convention hall, looking around me, my mind started racing, and I began to think I should put my friends in touch with some SEIU nursing home members. As our SEIU family grows, we can win for the 99%.