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Ready to Put Our Boots on the Ground


Realizing our power and using it to create change

By: Chiquita A. Twyman and Markesha Brooks, SEIU Local 2015
Apr 04, 2018

Seiu 2015 At Bwr1

The sisterhood and unity that we felt at the 7th Annual Black Women’s Roundtable Women of Power National Summit was amazing. It energized us to to put our boots on the ground and do more of the important work that ensures working families, especially in communities of color, are not left behind.

Participating in the summit helped broaden the ways we think of women in labor fighting back. It helped us see that protecting our voices on the job in a union and ensuring that Black families have equitable access to resources and opportunity are not competing ideals but can work together to create powerful change.

Chiquita A. Twyman, SEIU Local 2015
Chiquita A. Twyman, SEIU Local 2015

On the first day, Black women from across the country went to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives and speak out on the issues impacting our lives. Seeing all of those women making themselves heard inspired me to have my voice heard too. It helped me to be more confident when meeting with my elected leaders and more sure that my opinion mattered.

As home care workers, we know how important Medicaid is to ensuring that seniors, children and people with disabilities are getting the care they need. 1 in 3 births are covered by Medicaid, it covers 60 percent of all nursing home care and it allows the people we care for to live at home with dignity and respect. That’s what we all want and we will keep protecting Medicaid from partisan attacks by congressional Republicans.

Markesha Brooks, SEIU Local 2015
Markesha Brooks, SEIU Local 2015

Black women deserve to be heard and we deserve to have a government that responds to our needs. A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute highlighted the fact that Black women stand to be the most affected by Janus vs. AFSCME, a well-funded plot to further rig the rules against working people. We need politicians in Washington, D.C. and at the state level standing up to protect our right to join together in a union.

Through unions, Black families have gained access to the middle class. Studies have shown that a decline of unionization widens the black-white wage gaps, especially for women. When politicians and corporations cut jobs, slash pay and gut unions, it undercuts good jobs and has negative impacts on working people everywhere, but Black workers are usually hit the hardest.

Members pose for a picture after visiting Senator Kama Harris' office
Members pose for a picture after visiting Senator Kama Harris' office

The summit also helped us better understand that we need our union with us in the fight for racial justice all of the time, not just when we see people being killed. Together we can ensure the work performed by Black people is valued. We can speak out for higher wages, improve workplace benefits and strengthen our community. If we are standing up together for justice, we can build a better future that ensures future generations are not struggling against structural racism.

The recent victories in Alabama and Virginia have focused attention on Black women as voters, and that is a good thing. However, we aren’t just people who get politicians elected. We are also the people who will hold them accountable. That’s one of the most valuable things this experience has taught us.

Now it is up to us to go back to California and engage more, especially in organizing. As younger women in labor, we are still learning and we are excited to grow. When we organize, we make change. No court case can stop that.