I was a victim of the Great Recession. After losing my job as a paralegal, I found work as a security officer, making the same wage that I did 25 years ago. Here I was over 50, and like so many workers hurt by this economy, I felt like I had moved backwards in time.
But I began to see a way to advance once again, through my union. I had never been part of a union before, but because of my legal background, I started closely reading our union contract as soon as I started my new security job. Many of my co-workers were terrified of management and of losing their jobs. In this economy, so many working people are afraid to speak up because jobs, especially good jobs, are scarce. I wanted to make sure our employer was following our contract and labor law. I called our union and got in touch with our rep, Aaron Jones. He encouraged me to become a shop steward and enlisted me in a six week member leadership training program.
As I went through the training, it was like scales fell from my eyes, and the injustices of the world became much clearer. I could see that we're not just isolated workers, but we are a part of something much bigger. We have common interests not only with our co-workers in our shops, but with working people across the country and across the globe. I took what I learned back to my shop, and we all started to become more confident in asserting our rights. And I have become involved in Stand Up Chicago to unite with other working people and allies throughout our city.
The 1% and big corporations have played mind games with the 99% for too long, it is time to demand economic fairness.
There are six generations of 99 percenters in my family: my grandmother, my mother, me, my four kids, my thirteen grandkids and in July I will become a great grandmother. I want all my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to see clearly like I do, and to stand up for themselves.
Working people have nothing to lose at this point- the 1% has taken away our homes, our economic security, our retirement. By standing up together, like we are doing here at the SEIU Convention, we build the courage to overcome our fear and move ourselves and our country forward.