To the Plain Dealer & Cleveland.com Editors,
I am writing in response to your recent editorial attacking the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for our work in my community to improve the lives of working people and their families.
As a retired Cleveland Metropolitan School District employee and active member of SEIU, let me say that your statement that SEIU “doesn’t give a damn about Greater Cleveland or the people who live here” could not be further from the truth. Many SEIU members not only live in Cleveland, they also work in Cleveland and provide essential services to the residents of Cleveland. SEIU has invested more than 40 years in this community organizing workers for a better future for our families because we believe that no one should have to struggle to provide for their family.
The people of Cleveland are woke and we can thank SEIU and our community allies in large part for awakening our neighborhoods to the value of political action and civic engagement. Our members, along with their neighbors and other community allies are using our voices and grassroots actions to hold elected officials accountable and to let them know it will no longer be business as usual by putting corporate interest before residents interest. As an SEIU member, I am proud that my union was the driving force behind raising awareness to the dire poverty that plagues our community and the vast income inequality that exists in our neighborhoods. Jobs paying poverty-level wages drags down wages for everyone who works while making a handful of CEOs very rich.
The Raise Up Cleveland movement gathered over 40,000 signatures from hardworking Cleveland residents who need a raise to a wage that really pays the bills and the right to stick together in a union. For comparison, that’s more than double the number of people who voted in the last Mayoral primary.
For far too long, the wealthy and the well-connected have conspired with our elected officials to maintain the status quo. For the rest of us, that means that our wages have been frozen, our neighborhoods have been forgotten and our votes have been taken for granted. Not any more.
There have been numerous development projects to draw people to live or visit downtown Cleveland while the majority of our neighborhoods are being neglected of basic services and continuous outcries to make our communities safe. Cleveland residents are constantly told to wait. The wait is over!
We need elected officials who will listen to everyday working moms and dads, not just CEOs and billionaires. In the 2017 elections, we can make that happen by fighting for our neighborhoods and speaking up with our votes.
SEIU not only cares deeply about greater Cleveland, but my Union cares about a more just society where all workers are valued, all people are respected and our community and families thrive.
Proud SEIU Member