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SEIU’s April Verrett Leading the Fight for California Workers – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

April Verrett (Courtesy Photo)

Caring for union workers is in her blood. Most Angelenos are familiar with the work of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Secretary-Treasurer-elect April Verrett.

Verrett was born in Southside Chicago and has a long history of working on behalf of union workers. Her grandmother, a union steward for SEIU Local 46, taught Verrett the values ​​of collective action and community that have served her well as president of SEIU Local 2015, California’s most prominent union local representing long-term care providers.

The Sentinel has watched Verrett’s rise and had the opportunity to speak with her following her recent appointment.

April Verell is SEIU’s 2015 president. (Courtesy photo)

LA Sentinel: How impactful is it to have a seat at SEIU’s international table?

April Verrett: It is truly an honor to join the team of Mary Kay Henry and other international staff. This is a time when the world is grappling with this post-pandemic question of who we are and who we want to be. We are seeing workers across the country standing up and making choices. Since the pandemic, people have been talking about the great reconciliation, but we call it the great payback. The workers are fed up; they are tired of settling for less when they know they deserve so much more. I believe we are at a moment where we can transform the labor movement and the lives of millions of workers.

LAS: Were you surprised that one of the outcomes of the pandemic for many workers was the realization that they could have better jobs and opportunities to earn higher wages?

AV: I wouldn’t say I was surprised. During the pandemic, I saw fear and despair turn into anger, determination and inspiration. We emerged from this pandemic determined not to waste the lessons learned. And we would use this moment to say enough is enough and fight for transformational change. For generations, workers have been disrespected, devalued and humiliated. And they’re just fed up and not taking it anymore.

LAS: You are considered part of the next generation of SEIU leadership. Can you share your vision and hopes as you move forward?

AV: I hope to be a leader who brings the labor movement to a place where we can discuss poverty and income equality and build generational wealth, not just wages. We need to answer how we meet the moment in this century for 21st century workers doing 21st century work in a 21st century economy. The labor movement is still very much the movement created in the mid-1920sth century and we must evolve and innovate and meet workers where they are. This is the movement I want to be a part of.

LAS: What is your message to younger union members that conveys the viability and necessity of unions like yours?

AV: We must remember that we did not arrive at how workers and the public view unions by accident. It was a 40-year systemic plan and attack on the labor movement, on the unions from the right. I anchor what we do in power, personal power and collective power. I would like workers to see unions as organizations that are theirs to create and build assets that will help them thrive. Workers need to see the organizations as their own, which I hope will attract younger members.

LAS: I know you believe in speaking truth to power. Los Angeles is preparing to elect a new mayor. Have you spoken to candidates about their views on working with unions in relation to the labor market?

AV: Absolutely! We held a meeting with five candidates and our members decided to support Congresswoman Karen Bass. We are proud of this endorsement, proud to be a part of her campaign, and super proud to be a part of her victory in the last primary. Karen and I have talked a lot over the years about the union and I know she has a passion for workers. Congresswoman Bass has always supported workers in building their organizations and supported them in their struggles. She is an ally and I am proud to be her partner in this election and a progressive movement where community and workers will work together to improve Los Angeles and our country. I can’t think of a better person to be the next mayor of our great city.

LAS: What do you think needs to happen to change the mindset of those who are not union supporters?

AV: SEIU believes it is time corporations are held accountable for their attacks on unions and workers. It’s also time for elected officials and other allies to call them out on their behavior. The fact that workers have to go through fire to form a union is appalling, and we must no longer tolerate this bad corporate behavior.

LAS: You said you don’t want to focus only on wages. What is your opinion on unions supporting the good mental and physical health of their members?

AV: I have long believed that unions should speak for the whole lives of their workers, not just their work lives but their lives as people. There has been so much trauma and suffering in the past two years, so we need to do a better job of supporting workers so they can thrive. I would like to ensure that workers have the opportunity and access to vital physical and mental health care.

LAS: Is SEIU partnering with other organizations fighting to pave the way for citizenship for undocumented workers?

AV: SEIU is proud of our long history of involvement in the immigrant justice movement. We will not stop until we make sure this is a country that fully recognizes the humanity of all of us who live in and call America home.

SEIU’s April Verrett Leading the Fight for California Workers – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link SEIU’s April Verrett Leading the Fight for California Workers – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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