SEATTLE – SEIU 775 President David Rolf addressed a cheering, overflow crowd of caregivers from across Washington and Montana Friday morning at the 12th annual Convention and Leadership Conference in Seattle.
“This is an incredible room full of love and optimism,” Rolf said.
More than 750 caregivers gathered to celebrate victories, debrief the past year and plot a course for a stronger union and more prosperous future.
Rolf, who this week was named to Politico’s top 50, talked about the state of the nation’s economy and the path for caregivers to make changes that will benefit working people.
He recounted the history of SEIU 775 in Washington which has won advances for homecare workers and their clients for more than a decade.
“At a time when wages were going down, caregivers’ wages went up dramatically,” Rolf said.
He also celebrated the newest contract which members agreed to with state officials on Thursday. If ratified by the union and funded by the state Legislature, the newest contract will be the best in the nation for caregivers.
The only way such a strong contract could be achieved was by workers coming together to build a strong and powerful union, Rolf said.
“We built the power to make the state government say, ‘Yes,’ when they wanted to say, ‘No,’” he said.
But the union didn’t stop at achieving gains for caregivers alone. In the past year, SEIU 775 helped pass a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac and Seattle.
“We’re a union that’s about justice for all,” Rolf said.
He called on members to be adaptive, innovative and creative to move into the future. Members must be ready for a strong fight to secure more wins for workers.
To great applause, he invited caregivers around the country, union and non union, to join in the fight to create the best economic environment for workers possible.
“No one should live in poverty for doing life sustaining care work,” he said. “The fight for $15 is for all of us.”