When President Obama called into the SEIU's International Convention in Denver this week, cheers erupted as he properly noted, "Workers built the middle class; unions made us stronger." And of course, the thousands of delegates stood up and cheered when he asked if we are fired up and ready to go.
Yes, our members are pumped up and ready to fight for President Obama, but perhaps more importantly, we are fighting for ourselves. Our members know that it is up to us -- the people -- to march to the polls in November and vote for candidates who uphold our national values. We will have the final word when we speak up with our votes.
Much has happened since our last convention in 2008, when then-candidate Obama was campaigning for the White House. He entered the Oval Office as the nation plunged into a jobs crisis because of the failed economic policies of the prior Republican administration. Though the president strongly backs labor rights, collective bargaining rights came under attack in Wisconsin and Ohio. So too, did the rights of women and workers of color.
Meanwhile, our battles for justice for immigrants took us to the streets and to courtrooms across the U.S., from Arizona to Georgia and from Alabama to the U.S. Supreme Court. Anti-immigrant politicians in the state legislatures and governors' mansions continue turning Congress' failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform into their opportunity to advance their own racist agendas.
But great struggles produce an even greater resolve to defend ourselves.
At our convention, SEIU delegates and guests agreed that our strength comes from solidarity with each other and with our allies, and we will not allow ourselves to be divided by forces of discrimination. With our national allies at our side, we also pledged to join forces to protect the rights of workers, women, immigrants, communities of color, others who face discrimination, and to also shield our fundamental right to vote.
We have to change the politicians who write the laws that attack us; the politicians who also appoint the judges that deny us basic constitutional rights. We must elect leaders who believe that America was founded on the principle that all men and women are created equal, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or our station in life.
In other words, we must take responsibility for our own lives by choosing political leaders, not political panderers.
That is why we are going to train and mobilize hundreds of thousands of SEIU members to re-elect President Obama and look out for ourselves. We are going to elect politicians who agree that the top 1% should pay its fair share of taxes; create good jobs and invest in vital services such as health care and education.
And we are going to help deliver a record 12 million Latino voters in November in an effort to drive out the promoters of racial profiling laws and the politics of division. We have worked too hard for our voting, civil and human rights, and we are not going to give up now. So we will lead, unite, fight and win.