A short while ago, Ben Jealous, leader of NAACP, stood before the SEIU Convention in Denver and noted that "there has always been but one movement for human rights in this country." We may fight for what may seem like separate issues, but "underneath it all, it is one fight."
That's why convention delegates representing all 2.1 million SEIU members endorsed a comprehensive program to engage in unprecedented levels of coordination with strategic partners and to recruit, train and mobilize more than 100,000 member-leaders across the union who will reach out to friends, neighbors and co-workers to demand justice for the 99%.
There's just one movement. To illustrate this, let's take a look at how we can work together with groups like Greenpeace and NAACP.
WORKING WITH ENVIRONMENTAL ALLIES LIKE GREENPEACE
No matter what you know about climate change; no matter how concerned you might be about the threat of global warming; there is an undeniable truth about our planet -- we all live here.
That means we care about protecting our oceans and preventing the harmful impacts of tropical deforestation as much as we care about threats to low-income and tribal communities and communities of color that are at higher risk of exposure to chemical disasters because they frequently reside near waste water treatment plants, refineries, and port facilities.
The environment crises we face, globally and in our own backyards, directly impact the health of working families and our national economy. Working families are still dealing the BP Oil spill in the Louisiana Gulf Coast, the worst oil disaster in U.S. history. That environmental insult devastated entire industries, left thousands of workers unemployed, and compromised our children's health. Two years later, families, clean-up workers and residents are still dealing with medical damage claims to cover related respiratory and elevated levels of toxic chemicals in associated with crude.
Together, we can close the gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us to ensure that the wealthiest start paying their fair share and invest in our communities. Together we can transform our communities into a place where all families and communities can thrive with access to good, family -- sustaining jobs; where workers across industries are valued and people are respected.
WORKING WITH CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS LIKE NAACP
More than 100 years ago, the NAACP set out on a path to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all people. So, in 2012, the plight of working families and our communities will not begin and end with calculated schemes to systematically tarnish our democracy.
We cannot allow big corporations and the wealthy elite reverse voting rights. We cannot allow right-wing legislators to pass racist laws against our immigrant neighbors and fellow workers. We cannot allow the 1% to rig the tax system and perpetuate the growing gap between the rich and everyone else.
Labor unions and civil rights groups have transformed the nation before. We know the power of coming together. In 1963, ordinary people joined labor and civil rights activists for the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." Dr. King recognized economic justice as intractably linked to racial justice and it is that shared value that we must pass to future generations.
With our renewed commitment to a labor-community movement we will drive our efforts around the same vision--where people can live with dignity and equality, where people have a voice on the job, access to quality healthcare, education and vital services. We will pursue joint organizing and mobilizing and stand together in our political work. We will reinvigorate our movement and build campaigns of unparalleled scale. We will challenge the unbridled power of the 1% and pervasive economic inequality and create the conditions for all working families win concrete victories for the 99%.
It is our collective responsibility to win for all working people, to protect basic rights, and to restore economic and social justice.
The crisis we face draws no lines among the 99%.
As SEIU Executive President Gerry Hudson said at our convention:
The principle of our best alliances is simple: an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.
One thing is clear--we can't do this by ourselves. If we fight for our individual issues as separate parts of the larger social justice movement, we will fail to realize the power and potential of a broad and unified 99% movement.