9:08 AM Eastern - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From China to Africa to Denver, Our Stories are All Connected #default

All around us every day, we see and hear the stories of the 1%. On magazine covers, on TV, in ads, you see their luxurious lifestyle and you're made to feel inadequate if you're not living the high life. What makes this convention so powerful is that it's all about the 99% having a forum to tell our stories. And through telling our stories, we can impact the world and make positive changes in very real ways.

Through my union, I have been working with Minnesotans for a Fair Economy to try to hold big banks accountable. The banks got bailed out by us, the taxpayers, with hundreds of billions of dollars from our wallets. Now, they are once again making record profits and the executives at the top are raking in millions. But even though the American people sacrificed to save the banks, the banks are not reciprocating to support the people in our time of need. They are refusing to work with homeowners who have fallen on hard times and need modifications to their loans.

Before we started our work with Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, the banks were refusing to even meet with distressed home owners. Then we started telling our stories. We've been holding press conferences, attending bank shareholder meetings, writing letters to the editor, having demonstrations and speaking out.

All of a sudden, the banks started listening, and we have actually forced them to meet with some homeowners and modify their loan terms. This proves the power of giving voice to the voiceless and telling our stories.

And through telling our stories, we start to see common threads in our experience and realize we are all connected. All over the world, we are seeing the need for a more just global economy. In China, where workers toil to make our smart phones and computers, we hear reports that people's working conditions fill them with despair. In Africa, where I am from, we are a nation rich with diamonds and other resources, but the vast majority of the people are mired in poverty. And in the U.S., the richest country in the history of the world, there are tens of millions without healthcare, people are being evicted from their homes, many workers do not have a living wage and students are burdened by massive debt.

We know the tired story of the 1%: That "greed is good" and that we are all alone in this world with no one to rely on. Well here at the SEIU convention, we are telling a new, more noble story for America. It is about the power of cooperation, about unity, about helping each other to collectively achieve a greater vision that is only possible by working together. This is the story of the 99%.

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