What the Election Means for Working Families

A message from SEIU International President, Mary Kay Henry

This year’s elections were a step forward for working Americans.

SEIU members and other working people said no to hatred and yes to a bold, progressive agenda. We helped elect new leaders who are more representative of every kind of American.

I’m so proud of the incredible amount of work we did to talk to our neighbors about the issues at stake and inspire them to turn out to vote. Thousands of SEIU members knocked on doors, called and texted their coworkers and friends, and helped more people get out to vote.

So many new voters and people who don’t usually vote in midterms showed up on Tuesday—Black, white and brown.

We joined together to show how most of us want the same things, no matter what our color or where we come from.

We want every job to pay at least $15 hour. We want accessible healthcare for every family.

We want safety and justice in every neighborhood and dignity for new American immigrants and refugee families.

We want all working people to have the opportunity to join a union, no matter where we work, so everyone can get a seat at the table to have a say about making our lives and our communities better.

This is an agenda for a sustainable, balanced economy that includes everyone.

It’s an agenda that Americans across the country voted to support. Voters in Missouri and Arkansas said yes to higher wage floors. Voters in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho said yes to expanded Medicaid.

We elected new governors in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Maine, Kansas, and New Mexico who are ready to get started on this agenda.

We helped elect a new majority in the House of Representatives that is ready to take action on these kinds of issues.

Next, it will be up to us to hold our elected representatives accountable and get things done.

This election also taught us some lessons about some things that are not working well. While it was a day of historic firsts—the first Muslim congresswomen, the first openly gay male governor, the first two Native American congresswomen, and the most women ever in the House—our democracy isn’t working for too many voters of color. The rules are being used to try to exclude some of us. It’s inexcusable that Americans have to wait in line for hours for a chance to vote with an unreliable ballot machine.

That’s why we must link arms with fellow Americans to fight for reforms to make sure everyone can vote and that every vote counts. Floridians’ decision to approve an initiative to make sure that people who have paid their debt to society because of a previous conviction can vote is a step forward.

We will move forward together when we continue to stick together. It’s up to us to stand up for a country that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged few.

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