June 5, 2020
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SEIU6 President Zenia Javalera Statement on Geroge Floyd and the Fight for Racial Justice
SEIU6 Property Services NW joins voices with the protestors across the country who call for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and Manuel Ellis. We are calling for an end to the deadly mix of white supremacy and police impunity. And we acknowledge that for our Black community members, this moment is a crisis, on top of a crisis, on top of a 400-year-old system of devaluing Black lives, devaluing Black labor, and burdening Black families with a disproportionate share of death, stress, and pain.
We are crying out for George Floyd right now because his murder was caught on video. We are pained to think of the countless others whose lives are taken off camera. And we are pained to think of the everyday experience of racism faced by so many SEIU6 members and our families, who know what discrimination feels like in the workplace & in the world. In a survey of our janitorial members from earlier this year, over 30% reported experiencing racism on the job.
When the murder of George Floyd came to our attention, we were already painfully aware that the COVID-19 crisis was hitting Black and Latino families disproportionately. As a majority POC union, we were already mourning the loss of two members to COVID-19, while dozens more fought the virus. So many
Black workers are essential workers, who were sent to work during a pandemic without PPE, essential pay, or job security. The pandemic’s heavy toll on Black workers was already a racialized injury of mass proportions.
Now, as we see militarized police in full riot gear confront nonviolent protestors, we think of our airport cabin cleaners who had to fight just to get a mask. We think of healthcare workers who treated COVID-19 patients wearing garbage bags. We think of our janitors and security officers who have been calling for hazard pay for weeks. We say it often in our union, but this is a moment where we can see it more clearly than ever before: we cannot have economic justice without racial justice. We cannot have social justice without racial justice.
Right now, SEIU6 members are calling for an end to police brutality, and for an end to the devaluing of Black labor and Black life. We want to see a heavy investment in Black lives, and in the health of Black communities. We are in a crisis on top of a crisis on top of 400 years of injustice. Let’s be united, and let’s stay focused. Black Lives Matter.
President, SEIU6 Property Services NW
SEIU6 Property Services NW is part of the largest union in the country, Service Employees International Union, which represents over 2 million service workers in North America. SEIU6 represents more than 8,000 janitors, security officers, and allied industry workers in Washington State.
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