Together, We Rise

Opinion & Analysis Apr 13, 2018 at 4:08 pm
By Luisa Blue

Luisa Blue

By Luisa Blue

Service Employees International Union (SEIU International), Executive Vice President

Thank you for inviting me to join you today (April 14) at your Second Filipino Workers Conference here in beautiful Toronto.

I want to congratulate everyone here on your recent win in Ontario as working families celebrated the passage and implementation of Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. You refused to allow anti-worker extremists to divide you.

Because you stayed strong and united in your dedication to lift up working families, Ontarians have seen their minimum wage increase to $14 an hour January 1st this year and rise to $15 next year. Today in Ontario, a mother will be able to will have access to equal pay and a father will be able to take leave to care for a loved one without fear of losing his job. Let’s work together to ensure Canadians in other provinces and territories share the same benefits and worker protections next year!

With close to 900,000 Filipino immigrants in Canada and many working in the healthcare and service sectors, the Filipino Workers Network serves as a collective voice for workers joining together in a union for better wages, benefits and safer workplaces.

We all know we benefit as a community and as a society when we stick together in a union.

I know this from personal experience because 40 years ago, I joined a union. As a registered nurse, I started organizing fellow RNs and healthcare workers and helped lead the SEIU Nurse Alliance in its “safe staffing” campaign which led to California becoming the first and only state to legislate nurse-to-patient ratio standards for acute care hospitals in the US. We want bills like this and 148 passed so your neighbors, sisters and brothers across Canada and South of you in the United States can share in the Canadian Dream, the American Dream. You have given us hope even as we experience uncertain times in the long-anticipated Janus case, which we anticipate will affect working people sticking together in a union.

When I became president of Local 400 at San Francisco General Hospital, we achieved collective bargaining rights for county registered nurses. My passion to serve and care for others led me to campaign for compassionate care of patients with AIDS/HIV and to ensure healthcare workers received education on caring for them.

These experiences taught me that as Filipinos, immigrants and children of immigrants, we must stand in support of each other, fight alongside one another, and for each other. Especially our immigrant sisters and brothers who represent some of society’s most vulnerable.

Which is why we need to nurture and develop the next generation of Filipino and API labor leaders and activists. That’s you. That’s the Filipino Workers Network uniting workers for good jobs, fairness and justice. That’s sticking together for the successful passage of Bill 148. You have taught us: Together We Rise.

But let’s not stop there, let’s also unite all working people — especially Filipinos — across Canada and the United States to be able to join and stick together in a union.

Together, We Rise.

Thank you.