SEIU members are calling on Congress to act now to restore a historic civil rights law on voting rights and protect all voters from new forms of discrimination at the polls. It's not too late to add your voice to the more than 11,000 people who have already signed a petition we will submit together with tens of thousands of others from civil rights allies within the next 24 hours.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most important and successful civil rights laws ever enacted by the U.S. Congress, banned racism at polling places. A year ago, the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the law, kicking open the door for a new wave of voter suppression laws across the country.

The right to vote is at stake. SIGN THE PETITION and tell Congress to restore strength to the Voting Rights Act!

Tell Congress: Restore Crucial Civil Rights Law on Voting Rights
 
In some states, especially Southern ones, it used to be difficult for people of color to vote at all. The Voting Rights Act helped end that, essentially banning poll taxes, literary tests or property ownership requirements. It carried forward the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others to ensure communities of color have a voice in our political process.
 
But the Supreme Court's narrow 5-4 vote in 2013 undid part of the law. Conservatives on the court ruled that the 1965 law had "served its purpose" and "does not reflect racial progress" in America to date. Within hours of the decision, several states in the South immediately announced that they would pursue onerous new voter identification laws that make it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote.

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2:30 PM Eastern - Monday, September 15, 2014

SEIU Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month With #PowerOfOurVote #default

As Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off today, we have the perfect way to begin the celebration. 

SEIU has teamed up with more than 40 national organizations like Voto Latino, Mi Familia Vota and the Latino Victory Project and celebrity supporters like Eva Longoria, Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama and America Ferrera to mobilize Latino communities to register to vote today and head to the polls in November.

Whether it is immigration reform or raising the minimum wage, SEIU is committed to creating a future worthy of those we love -- and registering to vote and voting on Election Day is the best way to do that.  

Not to mention, there's a lot at stake in this year's election: all 435 U.S. House seats and 33 seats in the U.S. Senate will be on ballots across the United States, while voters will elect governors in 36 states and state legislatures in 46 states.

So what can you do? Here are 5 ways you can help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and honor the community leaders who made it possible:

1.     Register to vote today at http://latinos2014.com/
 

2.     Let everyone know you registered and share this graphic on Facebook

3.     Tweet about #HispanicHeritageMonth and #PowerOfOurVote. Here's what SEIU and others have tweeted so far:

 

4.     Get ready for November 4th: Not sure what ID to bring, don't know where to find your polling place, or have other questions? Get the answers -- no matter where you live -- with this great resource, courtesy of our friends at the ACLU.

5.     Spread the word on Instagram: Share this graphic or a #selfie that says "I'm registered to vote. Are you?" Be sure to include the hashtags: #PowerOfOurVote, #Latism, #orgullolatino, and #GOTV 


Hispanic Heritage Month is a month for both celebration and action. It is the perfect time to ensure that Latino communities and voices are heard.

This year, let's celebrate Hispanic heritage by harnessing the power of our vote.

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3:48 PM Eastern - Friday, September 12, 2014

Seattle Mayor and Sea-Tac Airport Worker Urge American Cities to Lead the Fight to Raise Wages #default

Seattle Mayor and Sea-Tac Airport Worker Urge American Cities to Lead the Fight to Raise Wages

PHOTO: Mayor Ed Murray, Sea-Tac airport worker Socrates Bravo.

"Please take what we did in Seattle and export it across the country," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told a crowd Wednesday during a panel discussion on the minimum wage at the Center for American Progress.


Also speaking at the CAP event was SeaTac Airport worker Socrates Bravo. He says the national minimum wage debate is about more than finances; it's about families.

As a ramp agent for SeaTac subcontractor Menzies Aviation, Bravo has to work more than 20 hours of overtime per week to try to make ends meet. His hectic schedule means sacrificing valuable quality time with his 2-year-old daughter.

"She is asleep when I get home and still sleeping when I leave for work," he says. "It's very sad but missing our children growing up is the reality for me and other co-workers."

Bravo discussed the impact of big businesses using bad contractors to hold down wages and benefits in cities across the nation at Wednesday's panel which included SEIU Executive Vice President Valarie Long, SEIU Healthcare 775NW President David Rolf, CAP Action Fund President Ted Strickland, UCLA Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Michael Reich, and Nick Hanauer of Second Avenue Partners.

Bravo also told how airport workers in partnership with the community have fought successfully to pass Proposition 1 in SeaTac.

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11:09 AM Eastern - Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bright Future Chicago Pushes for Universal Early Care and Education for All #default

150,000 Chicago Kids Don't Have A Seat

bright-future-event.jpgBright Future Chicago, a coalition of community groups and unions, is challenging the city's mayor to support universal early care and education for the city's children--reaching all children, not just the poorest, and serving children in all neighborhoods. Along with four aldermen, the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Pilsen Alliance, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Action Now, Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Healthcare Illinois are supporting a resolution to hold a hearing on ways to support Pre-K for all, financed by progressive measures--a tax on financial transactions, recovery of the cost of toxic interest rate swaps or other exotic financial products.

"We need affordable day care," said Hellen Juarez, of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. "How are we supposed to work if we can't find affordable day care for our children or full-day pre-K for our children?" She added that there are "no open slots" for day care in Brighton Park, which she said has the greatest need for it in the city. "What is at stake right now is the future of our children -- our whole city," Juarez said. "We want our children -- all of them -- to have a fair shot at education.

Parents and teachers recounted long waiting lists, rigid eligibility rules that disqualify needy kids, and fees that working parents cannot afford to pay. A "proliferation of half-day slots" makes it impossible for parents to hold down full-time jobs, let alone work overtime, parents said.

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7:21 AM Eastern - Thursday, September 11, 2014

SEIU Remembers September 11 Victims #default

20120906_flickr_WTC_dwarrenkub.jpg

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, 62 SEIU brothers and sisters - members of Locals 32BJ, 509, 1199NE, 1199NY and 405/PEF - were killed when hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C.

Thirteen years after one of the greatest tragedies to strike this country in generations, we have not forgotten the stories of unmatched courage and heroism that arose from our darkest hour: The first-responders who walked into burning buildings to save others, the security guards who guided hundreds to safety, the strangers who reached out a friendly hand to those in need.

On the anniversary of this tragedy, we remember their lives as seen through the eyes of their friends, relatives, and co-workers.

(Please read about the lives of our fallen brothers and sisters after the break)

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2:20 PM Eastern - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stop the attack on voting rights now #default

Stop the attack on voting rights nowWould you throw away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you weren't getting wet?

No, you wouldn't. But that's exactly what the Supreme Court did a year ago when they gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), the most important and successful civil rights law ever enacted by the U.S. Congress.

The right to vote is at stake. SIGN THE PETITION and tell Congress to restore strength to the Voting Rights Act!

In some states, especially Southern ones, it used to be really, really hard for people of color to vote. The Voting Rights Act helped end that, essentially banning racism at the polls and carrying forward the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many others to ensure communities of color have a voice in our political process.

But in 2013, the Supreme Court -- by a 5-4 vote --undid a VRA provision that cleared barriers to voting in areas where minority voters were heavily silenced at the polls. They ruled that the VRA has "served its purpose" and "does not reflect racial progress" in America.

Within hours of the Supreme Court's decision, several states in the South immediately announced that they would pursue onerous new voter ID laws that were clearly designed to make it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to vote. And one year later, 15 states have already enacted rules making it more difficult to vote.

Voter discrimination based on race is not a thing of the past. It is a current reality that persists to this day. We need to stop Republicans in states around the country from enacting racist voter ID and voter suppression laws. Passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act now is the best way to do it.

Tell Congress: Stop the attacks on voting rights. Click here to sign the petition.

We're joining with our allies for a petition delivery to Congress next week to urge the House and Senate to take swift action to correct this injustice.

There is no right more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote. Tell Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act now.

The November elections are fast approaching, and vulnerable voters could lose their voice in this democracy if we don't act now.

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Tonya Morrow is a 33-year-old member of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, and a certified nursing assistant at an Allentown, Pa., nursing home. She's been an active member of her local union for more than 10 years, and through her union activism has met and worked with hundreds of home care workers who struggle with low wages. Morrow is part of her union's movement to help home care and other workers in Pennsylvania improve their wages and benefits.

She knows that when people have good jobs and can shop in their communities, educate their kids, afford healthcare and retire with security--not only is that the American Dream--it's what drives a successful economy. Service sector jobs can and should be the heart of the new American middle class.


Watch this video where Morrow talks about what it would mean to have home care workers earning a living wage of $15/hour in Pennsylvania.

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3:41 PM Eastern - Monday, September 8, 2014

SEIU Home Care Workers Win $14 an Hour and Retirement Plan in Washington State #default

SEIU home care workers in Washington State are celebrating an historic contract win that provides the first-ever retirement plan for any home care workers in the nation, raises their average wage to more than $14 a hour, and includes paid time off.

"This contract represents a victory for the state's most vulnerable people, the citizens we provide care for," said Sylvia Liang, a Seattle home care worker and SEIU Healthcare 775NW member leader. "We're pleased that the state recognizes the importance of providing quality long term care and treating workers with dignity and respect."

SEIU Home Care Workers Win $14 an Hour and Retirement Plan in Washington State

Following last week's fast food strikes, the home care workers in Washington State are the latest example of people across the nation joining together to raise wages and raise up our communities, so we have an economy that works for everyone and a democracy where everyone has a voice.

The contract victory comes on the heels of SEIU Local 775NW's successful coalition effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Seattle and at SeaTac. In fact, Local president David Rolf's leadership on the "Minimum Wage Brigade" last week earned him the number 17 spot on the Politico 50, a list of people getting things done in an age of "gridlock and dysfunction."

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9:35 AM Eastern - Monday, September 8, 2014

Nurses Focus on Fall Priorities #default

I cannot believe that for many of us, kids and grandkids are back in school and summer is almost over!

Our important work as nurses, advocates and educators never seems to slow down.
The good news is that Health and Human Services recently reported that about 7.2 million Americans gained healthcare coverage through Medicaid and CHIP since the Affordable Care Act launched. And more are signing up each day. Data continues to prove, what nurses already know--the Affordable Care Act is working for our communities.

Unfortunately, attacks on the law continue. New GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has informed his colleagues that they will be spending part of the 2-weeks they are in session before the election to launch yet another attack on the Affordable Care Act.

As nurses, it continues to be critical that we raise our voices and support this law.

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12:22 PM Eastern - Friday, September 5, 2014

Hands Up, Don't Shoot! I'm a Service Worker #default

After fast food workers in 150 cities across the country went on strike yesterday and engaged in acts of civil disobedience inspired by the civil rights movement, it became apparent once again that civil rights, human rights, and union rights are all part of the same struggle for justice.

The Reverend Michael Walrond Jr. wrote in the New York Daily News on Wednesday that in New York City there are 50,000 fast food workers--90 percent of whom are people of color.

It's not just fast food and not just New York. From the poorest communities to the very richest, it's people of color who work in service occupations of all types. No problem with that, of course, except that a service job in today's America generally means low wages, no benefits, no ability to provide for your family, and no possibility for advancement.

Hands Up, Don't Shoot! I'm a Service Worker

Service workers are behind even before they start. And it's hurting our consumer-driven economy because these people can't even afford the basics.

Silicon Valley is a perfect example. A report last week released by Working Partnerships USA titled "Tech's Diversity Problem, More Than Meets the Eye," shows that despite what the media tells us, people of color do work in Silicon Valley--as service workers. Some 41 percent of security officers, 72 percent of janitors, and 76 percent of groundskeepers are African-American or Latino.

Their wages? $13.82 for groundskeepers, $11.39 for janitors, $14.17 for security officers. Try living on that in Silicon Valley, one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

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