Trump won. What’s Next?
Leaders of California’s largest home care worker organization hosted discussion about what a Trump Presidency means and how to play a role in advancing agenda of working families
SEIU Local 2015 hit the ground running in California this election and accomplished over 43,500 hours of voter contact, elected the first Indian American and second African American female into the U.S. Senate, and celebrated the successful passage of numerous ballot measures that address issues affecting working class people, such as: affordable housing, bilingual education, and protecting our natural environment and the health of our communities, among other victories.
However, with a Trump Administration on the horizon, caregivers are asking, “What’s Next?”
SEIU 2015 Provisional Officers, April Verrett, Kim Evon, and Arnulfo de la Cruz hosted a live Facebook conversation to talk about what a Trump presidency means and what the role of over 325,000 home care and nursing home workers, allies, supporters, and community members will be to advance the agenda of working families moving forward.
APRIL: Good afternoon Brother and Sisters and to all of our wonderful world of Facebook friends. I am April Verrett and we welcome all of you to this Facebook live chat with the officers of Local 2015.
ARNULFO: Hi everyone my name is Arnulfo De La Cruz.
KIM: Hi, and I’m Kim Evon. And we are Officers of SEIU Local 2015, representing over 325,000 long term care workers across the state of California who making up one of the most beautifully diverse organizations in the state. We know usually our President Laphonza Butler is speaking to you live on Facebook but she is out of the office today, she sends her best regards and thought it was best that we have this important conversation today in her absence.
ARNULFO: This past week we know was tough on many of us and we know it has been rough for many of you. Our hearts grew heavy and emotions ran high when we realized that we didn’t get the candidate that we had fought so hard to elect.
APRIL: It’s been truly, truly hard for many of us to process just what happened on Election Day, and that Donald Trump is now the President-elect of this country. The candidate who ran a campaign that represented everything we stand for is now going to be in the highest office in this nation. Someone who has spewed hateful rhetoric against women, immigrants, Black people, Latinos, Muslim Americans, the disabled, and unfortunately that list keeps going.
KIM: While we may be disgusted by his disregard and disrespect for us, Americans, we need to realize that this country has never and will never be about one man. In fact President Obama once said that the most important people in a democracy are its citizens. So we need to keep that in mind and we need to make sure that we understand that we make up an incredibly diverse democracy and President-elect Trump did not change who we are overnight when he got voted in.
And he didn’t change who we are as Californians. Because speaking of California, SEIU Local 2015 members, caregivers along with their sisters and brothers across the state, did amazing things this past year. They fought and won and passed an increase to the minimum wage to $15 — people said it couldn’t be done and it got done — they also fought really hard for the issues of caregivers making sure that for the first time IHSS Providers get overtime, wait, travel time — things they were excluded from historically for years — earned sick days.
And they fought to educate our legislature on the vital and critical importance of having enough staff in our nursing homes and to make sure that issue stays first and foremost on the attention of legislators going into next year. All of which we not only do we need to celebrate but we need to protect in this moment and we continue to strive for more wins moving forward.
ARNULFO: And although the result of the presidential election was bitter, we had a tremendous victory here in California, and voters just like you and all of us made a strong statement. We elected Kamala Harris as our next Senator from California, we elected Assemblymembers like Eloise Reyes who stood up to big business and big oil and big everything, and has stood with working people and SEIU 2015 members.
We elected other Assemblymembers, Congressmembers, Senators, and also at the local level we know how important our Boards of Supervisors are in impacting issues around wages and benefits and other things. So, it was a historic election in California, including on the candidate side.
APRIL: And we know that elections in California are not just about candidates. We heard our members loud and clear as we travelled from one end of the state to the other tell us there are other issues that you care about — not just your wages and your benefits.
And we heard you loud and clear when you said housing is the #1 issue on the minds of Californian families. So we worked hard and we passed ballot measures in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco and in other places across the state, to make our housing practices more fair.
We also said YES to a set of ballot initiatives that really speak to our values on November 8.
We said YES to funding for our schools and programs to ensure that dignity for our elderly, disabled and the most disadvantaged.
We said YES to bilingual education so that all children can have a fair shot at a good education.
We said YES to restorative justice and NO to punishment — for those of us who may make a mistake but we really do want and deserve a second chance.
We said YES to investing in education vs. mass incarceration.
We said YES to common sense gun safety as we try to make our communities safer for all of us.
And we said YES to protecting our natural environment, and the health of our communities.
Kim: Make no mistake — President elect Trump, and the folks he is appointing right now and talking about putting on his team, they’ve got plans to make changes but none of them are going to be good for working people.
He already has a plan — they’re talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would take healthcare from 20 million men, women, and children in this country.
He’s talking about block granting Medicaid which would seek to reduce enrollment, and access, and also impact funding. He wants to shrink government so he wants to shrink funding which would completely impact the programs that we have here — IHSS, nursing home staffing — all of that is going to be on the chopping block if he had his way. And it puts more burdens on the state.
So the state is going to have to take on the larger share of the burden of funding if he has his way. But again, it’s one guy. One guy. But we have to be aware of what his plans are so we make sure we’re out in front of it.
And he’s going to target hard-working men and women who because they don’t possess a single piece of paper that says they’re a citizen, he’s thinking they’re people he can throw away. These people are just as American as everybody else that had the privilege of being born here or having a piece of paper that documents them.
APRIL: All of that is really scary stuff. And we cannot change the outcome of the Presidential election, but we do have a choice about what we do now. We can choose to be afraid, to hunker in on ourselves, to try to protect what little bit of success we’ve had, or protect our family, but we can also make a choice that now is a time for bold action. We can say we’re going to stand up, we’re going to roll up our sleeves, and we’re going to fight.
We’re going to fight for the ideals and principles that we’ve stood for for so very long as Californians. And as California, the most progressive state in this country, we can continue to lead the way for all Americans.
I felt so inspired by one of our member leaders, Maria Cibrian. The very next day she was up at 5AM here at this office on television giving an interview with Univision. She reminded all of those who could see and hear her that as working people we’ve been down this path before. She looked right in the camera and she said: Now is not the time to shy away from the fight, now it’s time to take the fight to the Congress.
And Members like Maria, like all of you, remind us every day that the labor movement, that hardworking people, we don’t give up and we don’t give in — we just fight harder for each challenge that arises.
This now is the fight of our lives. Now it’s time to put our money, and our feet, and our emotions where our mouths are. Let’s stand up and let’s fight — because when we fight, we win!
ARNULFO: Maria is a great example. SEIU, SEIU 2015, the labor movement — when have we ever backed down to a bully, or one person who’s threatening to threaten everything we’ve been able to accomplish not just across the country but also here in California? And I think that the great thing about the United States is that this is a democracy. This is not a dictatorship where one person decides everything. So what are we going to do? We’re going to do what we’ve always done to make progress in California.
We’re going to work with the faith community, we’re going to work with other labor brothers and sisters, we’re going to work with our local community organizations, young people. And that winning coalition, now is the time, more important than ever, to come together and send a strong message to the President-elect that we’re also serious about making improvements and protecting what we have.
It also reminds me of a quote from our Brother Abdallah Awad, who once reminded us that he “loves this country because it promises freedom, liberty, and justice for all.” Which for him means being able to practice any religion free of persecution.
KIM: All of us have a role to play in protecting and promoting the values we hold dear.
It is truer now more than ever that an injury to one is an injury to all. We must view the hateful rhetoric and possible actions to demonstrate that rhetoric as an affront to all of us. That could be me next, that could be you next.
As a white woman born here in the U.S., now more than ever I have the responsibility to never be silent or be a spectator when I see or hear anyone being the target of hate-filled rhetoric or violence.
I want to remind all my sisters and brothers — immigrant, black, brown, API –that while I may never have the experiences of being profiled for traffic stops, and I’ll never know what it’s like to have my family ripped from me in the middle of the night, nor be the target of others derision or fear because of the color of my skin — I am going to be about the business of dismantling the structures and systems of racism in this country that serve the interests of a few and oppress the rest.
When we are granted privilege in life whether we wanted it or not, we have to use it for a greater purpose than ourselves. All of us have a responsibility to demonstrate the values and unity that make us a strong and powerful nation. We can’t leave our future on the casino floor and hope we hit it big. Hope that Trump will do right by us. Hope that any one of them will do right by us. Our future must be a matter of choice. I choose to act and ensure a future filled with possibility — hope, unity, mutual respect, and embracing the diversity that is our asset in this country. It’s what makes us great.
And I ask all of us to be our sisters and brothers’ keeper.
APRIL: And all of you who may not be a member of our union, but you’re looking for a place to funnel your energy, stand alongside of us and fight with us. We have been so inspired by seeing young people and old people and everybody in between take to the streets these last couple of weeks and say, “We’re not going to take it!”
But let’s not just march.
Let’s go to our State Capitols, let’s go to Washington D.C. Let’s continue to make sure we are holding elected officials accountable. And at the end of the day there’s another election in two years. Let’s continue to send the message that we will vote for those who hold our values. This isn’t about personalities, this is about issues. This is about who are we sending to our houses of government who are going to speak on behalf of working people. And let’s make sure we have the power to make lasting, transformational, structural changes. It’s in OUR hands — it’s in YOUR hands. Let’s all do our part to be a part of the system of checks and balances all throughout government.
I’m also now reminded of one of our members, Sue Kim.
She’s a hard-working immigrant in this country and she helps make her union strong. She speaks up when it’s time to go to the city council when they aren’t doing a good job, she’s going to be the first one at the county board if she has an issue with what they’re doing, she’s going to travel up to Sacramento if that’s where she needs to be. It’s members like Sue Kim who’s willing to stand up for herself, stand up for her brothers and sisters, stand up for her neighbors in whatever venue she needs to stand up.
So let’s speak up. Let’s march. Let’s hold people accountable. Not just now when we’re upset but next year when it’s about the state budget, or when it’s about protecting ACA, or when it’s about defending immigrants, or when it’s about protecting our communities. We will continue to organize, and mobilize, and naturalize, and register, and vote.
Let’s not ever forget we will always be stronger together.
ARNULFO: Speaking of taking it to the streets Kim and April. How beautiful is it to see people who aren’t afraid to speak out, people who are marching and speaking out. We’d like to invite you on November 29th, across the country and in multiple cities across California we’re going to be demanding economic equality, and social justice, and issues around the Fight for 15. This is an incredibly important day on November 29 and we’d like to invite you to join us.
I’d like to leave you with a great quote by Ms. Angela Davis. She said: “I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”
KIM: Finally sisters and brothers, the best way for us to continue to move forward, protect our progress, advance our values, and strive for what we all know that we deserve which is more. And what we know matters to caregivers and working people, we have to strengthen worker organizations, our unions. The attacks that we’ve been under only because when we’re together and we’re strong, we can do anything.
So I’m going to ask you now — Join us. Become a member of our union today and become part of a community that works to advance the life and dignity of every person.
Let’s start putting unity into practice RIGHT NOW! Si se puede, sisters and brothers!