More than two years since I had the honor of standing alongside SEIU members as we were invited to see Pope Francis during his visit to the White House, today I find myself preparing for a dialogue with Catholic Cardinals at the Vatican at the International Meeting of Trade Union Organisations being held this weekend.
I am not alone on this trip. I’m carrying with me the home care and nursing home leaders I swore into office last week. I’m carrying our janitor members who may soon face deportation because of the inaction of the current administration. I’m carrying the professors from Fordham University who just voted to form their union, and the thousands of hospital workers who are taking a big risk by trying to organize their own unions amongst fierce opposition.
I’m also carrying with me a message to the Vatican on how we are linking all our fights for social justice in order to win. That’s why I am traveling with Rev. Dr. William Barber II, and together we will talk about how we are joining the fight for workers’ rights with the fights against systematic racism and poverty.
Pope Francis once said in 2015 at the World Popular Movement gathering in Bolivia, “The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers, and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of the people and in their ability to organize.” These words hold a special place in my heart, for I know that our members know more than anyone how to organize, and that their efforts are directly leading to the betterment of humanity.
In fact, Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken out against corporate greed, and singles out unions as the solution to protecting vulnerable workers. Having the leader of the Catholic Church on our side as we fight back against corporate injustice is a powerful affirmation, and if I get the pleasure of meeting him on this trip I will thank him for this.