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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4:21 PM Eastern - Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Historic Day in the Fight for Fair Wages #default

Home care workers join call for $15 and a union

Fast Food workers raise stakes in acts of civil disobedience

In 150 cities from coast to coast, thousands of working people today demonstrated at fast food restaurants as part of a "history-making," growing movement to get our economy moving again by improving wages.

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"We're a movement now... We know this is going to be a long fight, but we're going to fight it till we win," Latoya Caldwell of Kansas City, Mo., said in a news story chronicling the many victories for working people that brave fast food workers have won in their fight so far.

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At the crack of dawn, dozens of fast food workers in Detroit and New York were arrested during sit-ins calling on McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and others to raise their pay. Additional arrests came soon after everywhere from Chicago to Little Rock, with nearly 500 people arrested in all.


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In Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Detroit, home care workers - both nonunion and SEIU members - joined fast food workers in their call for $15 an hour and the right to unite in a union.

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"Earning $15 would make a huge difference," LaTonya Allen, a home-care aide in Atlanta who earns $9 an hour, told the New York Times. "It would really help me and my husband pay our bills. It would enable us to do more things together as a family. All we do now is work, work, work."

Show your support for their struggle by sharing our graphic on FaceBook now.

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6:50 AM Eastern - Thursday, September 4, 2014

On strike for $15 and a union #default

Right now, fast food workers are in the streets in 150 U.S. cities, demanding $15 an hour and a union. And home care workers like me are standing with them.

I'm a home care worker in Atlanta and over the last two years, I've watched the fast food movement grow from one city, to a few cities, to become a global movement. There's no stopping us when we stand together.

So today, I'm standing up for $15 and a union, too.

Will YOU stand with fast food and home care workers in the Fight for $15? Show your solidarity on Facebook by sharing this now.

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I've talked to fast food workers in my town and we face the same struggles. Hard work. Low pay. Not enough hours. Paychecks that never leave us with quite enough money to put gas in the car AND pay all the bills.

It's a constant struggle just to get by.

No matter who you are or where you're from, if you work hard, you should be able to make enough to live a good life and provide an even better one for your kids. That's the key to getting our economy and our democracy back on track - and it's worth fighting for.

Thousands of workers are taking a stand for higher wages and better jobs today. Show your support for their courage and fight by sharing our graphic on Facebook now.

Eight of the 10 fastest-growing jobs in America pay less than $15 an hour. That's just not right. And today, I'm taking a stand. Please join me.

Want to follow the action live from the ground? @SEIU is live tweeting and you can also follow hashtags #StrikeFastFood and #HomeCare15

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9:19 PM Eastern - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SEPTEMBER 4: Thousands of Workers Striking in 150 Cities for #StrikeFastFood #default

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Across the country, fast-food workers are preparing for the next phase of their Fight for $15 movement. On September 4th, thousands of workers in 150 cities from Charleston, S.C., to Chicago, Ill., will walk off their jobs to show that they can't wait any longer for companies like McDonald's to raise their pay.

In cities including Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta, fast-food workers will be joined by home care workers who are joining the Fight for $15 movement. "We deserve a good life, too. We want to provide a nice future for our kids, but how can you provide a good life, how can you plan for the future, when you're scraping by day to day?" said Jasmine Almodovar, a home care worker in Cleveland.

"Home care workers and fast-food workers have a lot in common," says Liliana Coredero, of Lansing, Ill., who left a job at Walgreens for one in home care because she met elderly customers coming in to fill prescriptions and wanted to help them. "We work hard, in one of the nation's fastest-growing industries, for low pay that makes it impossible for us to care for our own families. Now we have something else in common: we're both part of the growing movement for $15 and we won't stop until we win."

Workers will strike in every region of the country at major fast-food restaurants including McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and KFC. Since the global fast food strike in May 2014, the movement has continued to spread, with workers walking off their jobs for the first time in Tucson, Ariz.; Minneapolis, Minn., Rochester, N.Y., and Little Rock, Ark.

Read a New York Times article previewing the strikes here.

FOLLOW THE ACTION FROM THE GROUND

Be sure to follow @SEIU and @lowpayisnotok on Twitter for live updates from fast-food workers and home care workers throughout the day, beginning at 6:00 AM. Also follow the hashtags #StrikeFastFood and #HomeCare15.

Join the movement to raise up home care workers by adding your name here.

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10:11 AM Eastern - Sunday, August 31, 2014

Raising America This Labor Day #default

20140829-Labor-Day-Facebook3-310px-graphic-for-Mary-Kay-Henry-SEIU.jpgThe weekend and Labor Day are important times to reflect on and honor the courage of generations of working men and women--the people who brought us Labor Day and countless other benefits won by the labor movement, from better wages to improved working conditions.

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry adds that it is also a "pivotal time to take stock of where our families, our economy and our democracy are heading."

In an op-ed for The Nation, Henry writes that we face an "incredible challenge":

Half of all Americans now make less than $15 an hour. Of the 10 fastest-growing jobs in America, eight are service sector jobs. Service sector jobs are the heartbeat of our economy and our communities, from the folks who care for the elderly and our children, to those who cook and serve our food to those who clean and secure our offices. Moving our economy forward must include making service jobs into good jobs with wages that you can raise a family on.

From home care workers to adjunct professors and security officers to fast food workers, people are uniting in the largest, most determined movement for working families that modern America has ever seen. And we're winning:

All told, 6.7 million workers have achieved better pay since fast food workers began striking less than two years ago, either through states or cities moving to raise minimum wages or through collective bargaining. These brave workers are building the momentum to raise wages and get our economy roaring again.

Yet, Henry notes, our prosperity depends not just on economic justice, but the fundamental American principles of liberty and justice for all.

The taking of Mike Brown's life in Ferguson, Missouri only weeks ago reminds us that social and economic justice must go hand in hand for America to thrive. To solve these issues, we need opportunities for all Americans to fully participate in our economy and improve the quality of life for their families. That's why we must also fix our broken immigration system and uphold and protect civil rights and democratic participation for all Americans, not just the wealthy few.

Read Mary Kay Henry's Labor Day 2014 op-ed here.

Enjoy a happy and safe Labor Day. For those who have the day off, best wishes for enjoyable celebrations with families and friends--and for those who are on the clock, thank you for the hard work that keeps America moving.

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Bill Shimer

PHOTO: In many ways, adjuncts like Bill Shimer have more in common with fast food workers than with their tenured colleagues, facing very low pay and no benefits or job security of any kind.

Bill Shimer, Adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University

Northeastern University adjuncts voted to join SEIU on May 15, joining part-time faculty at Tufts and Lesley universities who have formed unions in the past year.


Being a college professor was once the embodiment of a good middle class job. But not anymore. In many ways, adjuncts like Bill Shimer have more in common with fast food workers than with their tenured colleagues, facing very low pay and no benefits or job security of any kind.

Like so many adjuncts, Bill strings together part-time jobs at multiple schools in the Boston area to make ends meet. He often has to dip into his savings just to pay the bills and the idea of going out to dinner is a distant memory. Still he feels lucky to have any savings at all unlike adjuncts he knows other departments who struggle to afford food and rent in the summers without any paychecks coming in.

Without a set schedule from semester to semester, it's not unusual to get almost no time to prepare for a new class. Northeastern University recently asked him on a Friday to teach a new course starting the following Monday, and told him to come early that day to pick up the textbook. He lives with the very real and recurring fear that he won't have a job next semester.

Bill describes feeling isolated from the school and his colleagues. "These indignities made me feel worthless and hopeless, like a failure in life and work. I often wondered where I had gone wrong."

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