MSEA-SEIU Member Kerem Gungor, seated at far right, joins with fellow workers and union members and presidential candidate and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar during the Unions For All Summit in Los Angeles.
MSEA-SEIU Member Rachel Sherman prepares out one of 4,000 text messages she sent from the Unions For All Summit getting the word out about the Unions For All campaign and asking folks to register to vote.
MSEA-SEIU Members Rachel Sheman and Kerem Gungor say the Unions For All Summit they attended with over 1,000 workers and union members throughout our nation has energized them in their fight for Maine’s working families and retirees — and in their demand that the next U.S. President makes working families, retirees, and the right to join a union their priority.
The four-day Unions for All Summit in Los Angeles brought together union delegates from SEIU locals, workers who are organizing to unionize, and the Democratic presidential candidates, all of whom answered questions posed directly from the workers about what they’ll do for us. Watch what the candidates said about $15 an hour and Unions For All.
Unions For All is SEIU’s bold vision for making the lives of working families across the country better and stronger. The Unions For All campaign, Rachel and Kerem said, is our opportunity to crystallize the demand that SEIU members, Fight for $15 and a Union worker-leaders, and working people across the nation have been making for a voice in our economy and democracy, and to make clear what we expect from candidates. The Unions for All campaign highlights the urgency of building working people’s power to hold corporations accountable for investing in the people who do the hard work in our communities.
The Unions For All platform calls for federal labor regulations setting the floor, not the ceiling, for organized labor, federal contractors paying a living wage (minimum $15 an hour), ensuring all workers can join a union, and making good-paying union jobs a focus of major initiatives such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
“We evaluated the presidential candidates based on their commitment to the Unions For All platform,” Kerem said of his role in the Summit. “I attended a small-group discussion with Minnesota Senator Klobuchar and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, and listened to the candidates as they answered questions on the healthcare and immigration.
“After the candidates’ departure, we had an internal discussion to evaluate their responses,” Kerem said. “I highlighted the importance of having a president who keeps on organizing to push a bold, labor friendly legislative agenda through the Congress after the election. We had the opportunity to interact in a workshop setting and agreed that we must address economic and racial inequality together by using the Unions For All platform.”
Kerem noted, “As MSEA members, we are among the 10 percent of the U.S. workers who are lucky enough to have a voice in their workplace through their unions. We must not only strengthen MSEA but also support others who want to unionize so that we can progress towards an equitable, just society.”
During the Unions For All Summit, Kerem, Rachel and the other union delegates used a smartphone app to provide individual feedback on each presidential candidate. After the candidates presentations were completed, they had a roundtable discussion about the candidates’ performances. Rachel recorded her group’s discussion. The records of the group discussions were collected and they will be used along with the results of the individual surveys for making the decision on SEIU’s presidential endorsement.
The union delegates also took to their smartphones and computers to get the word out about Unions For All campaign to workers throughout the nation and to encourage folks to register to vote. “I sent about 4,000 texts,” Rachel Sherman said. “More than a million were sent from the Summit attendees.”
“I have never been to a similar conference before and honestly did not know what to expect,” Kerem said. “Quality of the organization, engaging speakers and presenters, thoughtfully planned workshops, the questions posed to the presidential candidates by my fellow brothers and sisters definitely exceeded my expectations and impressed me. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to represent MSEA.”
MSEA-SEIU Member Kerem Gungor shares a moment with presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke during the Unions For All Summit.