Contact:
Keiana Greene-Page, Keiana.Greene-Page@seiu.org, 202-730-7349

Issued January 30, 2018

Working People deliver the real State of the Union

SEIU members, leaders say the “State of Working People” is very different than how the president will portray it tonight

WASHINGTON— As the country waits to hear President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, SEIU members and leaders are speaking out about how his administration has harmed the lives of working people over the last year.

The president has not fulfilled his campaign promise to help the “forgotten men and women” of America. Instead the Trump administration has caused disarray in the lives of working families, including those who elected him into office.

“The State of Working People, our families and our communities is very different than what we’ll hear tonight. The president is more interested in rolling back the progress we’ve made to raise wages, welcome immigrants and expand healthcare to millions of Americans,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry.

The president’s signature tax legislation makes it harder for working families to put food on the table, send their kids to college and save for retirement. 

“I’ve sacrificed and worked hard everyday to build a decent life for my family. I work extra hours so that my wife can stay home with our son, who has a disability. Instead of helping us, President Trump wants to raise taxes on families like mine,” says Antonio Vento, a janitor at University of Miami and 32BJ SEIU member.  “The Trump Tax plan isn’t a middle-class tax cut. It is attack on hard-working people.” 

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania member and registered nurse Ahmed Rizik says the repeated attacks on Medicaid and healthcare hurt working families. 

"The majority of my patients really depend on Medicaid. They are people with respiratory problems and cardiovascular problems and without this they are left without any of the healthcare they need,” said Rizik, a Chambersburg, Penn. resident. “Republicans in Congress are not going to stop so we have to continue fighting too." 

Broward College adjunct professor and SEIU-Florida Public Services Union member Michelle De Marco knows President Trump’s policies aren’t supporting his own claims that working people would see higher wages under his leadership.

"Americans represented by unions earn more than those who aren’t, so why is the president trying to overturn rules that make it easier for workers to collectively bargain with big corporations and could help millions of Americans get paid for overtime? The President’s promises don’t add up with his policies,” said De Marco. 

Ingrid Henlon, a Connecticut child care teacher and CSEA/SEIU 2001 member, and Audra Traynham, a 32BJ member in Pennsylvania, make the case that the Trump administration’s continued attacks on immigrant families and people of color has divided our country. 

“I’m an immigrant from the island of Jamaica. When we first came to America, it was to make our dreams come true. Mr. President, you talk about making this country great again but how can we make it great again when families are being torn apart? This country is built around families,” says Henlon. 

“President Trump wants us to believe he used his first year in office to improve the lives of all working people. That’s not true. His administration has rolled back progress on civil rights and cut vital programs that would help get justice for people of color,” said Traynham. “We cannot continue to let this happen. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall.” 

Despite attacks from the Trump administration, working people are committed to turning the country back around. 

“Millions of SEIU members, Fight for $15 activists and members of our communities are joining together to demand more good, union jobs. Brave DREAMers and TPS holders are pressuring their members of Congress to pass a bipartisan solution that keeps families together. Men and women of all races are fighting to restore voting rights and enfranchise returning citizens. And people from Alaska to Maine fought back against efforts to take away their healthcare and gut Medicaid, and we will keep up the fight,” said Henry. “Together, we will keep rising up to improve the lives of working people.

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