June 2020

Why we celebrate Juneteenth and why it is important

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Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Liberation Day, is a monumental moment for African Americans in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger’s reading of the Federal orders in the city in Galveston, Texas, proclaimed all slaves in Texas now were free. The news of the Emancipation freeing the slaves by President Lincoln took two years to reach Texans and by that time President Lincoln was dead and the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, had passed Congress. Even though the slaves were free many plantation owners wanted them to stay until after the harvest, so they encouraged them to stay on as hired employees. This shows the injustice between the people in power and those who worked for them. As proud union members we are still fighting against oppression every day.

Celebration of Juneteenth took many forms, including faith and community based celebrations with food, athletic competitions and readings from noted American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. The Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles, of Coahuila, Mexico, also celebrate Juneteenth. In San Diego, the Cooper Family has led the Juneteenth Celebration for the past 50 years.

Juneteenth takes on a greater significance this year with all of the high profile killings and other incidents involving African Americans from all ages and economic backgrounds. The Black Lives Matters protests all over the United States and the world brings to the forefront the need for racial justice, reforms in police policy and procedures and changes in legislation that particularly disadvantage people of color.

Historian Mitch Kachun considers that celebrations of the end of slavery have three goals: “to celebrate, to educate and to agitate.”

What shall we do next? First, educate ourselves about Juneteenth, the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history and today. Support African American entrepreneurs. Sit down and have meaningful dialogue about the current climate of African Americans in the United States and the world we live in. Get out there and VOTE. If you are not registered, please do as soon as possible. Your vote counts! Please complete the 2020 Census and let us be counted so our communities can receive the resources we need.

Get involved in our Union’s African American Action Committee

IrisKO150In Solidarity,

Iris Trammel
Treasurer of SEIU Local 221
President of the African American Action Committee

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Black Lives Matter

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Learn about COVID19 Workers’ Compensation Rights

You are invited to join SEIU for another informative virtual Workers’ Compensation Seminar with the law firm Hiden, Rott, and Oertle at 5:30p.m. Wednesday, June 10.

RSVP by following this link.

This is an exciting opportunity to learn about your rights toWorkers’ Compensation during the Covid-19 pandemic, including a new executiveorder on rebuttable presumption expanding your rights to workers’ compensation!

You must be a union member to attend this seminar. Please follow this link to register.

If you have any questions on workers’ compensation that you wouldlike answered during the seminar, please email your questions in advance toJennifer Spirit at Jennifer.Spirit@seiu221.org.

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It is not enough to mourn George Floyd. We demand equity and justice

“It is not enough to condemn the murder of George Floyd or mourn his loss. This is just the start. SEIU Local 221 continues to demand equity for working-class communities, justice for victims of police violence and an end to anti-Black racism in our institutions. We call for an end to the over-policing of Black and Brown neighborhoods and under investment in critical public services as we fight the dual pandemics of coronavirus and social injustice.

As front-line workers committed to serving the public, we provide services for Black, White, Brown, Asian and Pacific Islander communities and families. Defending and expanding these services for everyone depends on fighting anti-Black racism in our institutions. Public agencies, including the County of San Diego, overspend on policing and incarceration. On top of that, they pay millions in taxpayer dollars on legal bills for excessive use of force, which pulls resources away from critical public services.

We call on all public agencies to invest in the needs of our communities. We need a people’s budget that shifts resources to healthcare and mental health services, economic and housing relief, public infrastructure like roads and parks, and accountable public safety services that center on de-escalation, not on punitive measures.

As a multi-racial union of public and nonprofit workers, we walk in the footsteps of historic movements for equity and justice that came before us. Labor and Civil Rights organizers faced systematic repression, including police violence, deportations and targeting of popular leaders. Their endurance and commitment in the face of brutality won the rights that we have today. Now is the time to continue the struggle for justice.”

– David Garcias, President, SEIU 221

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