On Tuesday, October 16, the California State Council of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing more than 656,000 workers statewide, announced its support for the candidacy of John Edwards for president. The United Long-Term Care Workers’ Union (SEIU, Local 6434), more than 150,000 members strong—the majority of which are women of color— proudly join in the endorsement of John Edwards as the candidate we can trust to include the issues of working people at the top of his presidential agenda.
His is not a passing acquaintance with people who work hard just to make ends meet. It’s where John Edwards comes from and it’s where his heart is. When he talks about the working poor, he is also committing himself to communities of color, because African-Americans and Latinos are twice as likely as their white counterparts to be among the working poor. This is the man who understands that our national response to Hurricane Katrina represents one of this country’s darkest and most shameful hours. John Edwards is the kind of man who loses sleep at night over the fact that there are children in America who go to bed hungry, including children who come from homes with two working parents. And John Edwards isn’t afraid to speak of our individual responsibility to redress these wrongs.
In the face of pundit criticism that poverty isn’t an issue people care about, Edwards has remained steadfast and unwavering in asserting his commitment to “regular” Americans. His message of “two Americas” is inclusive and reflects the great divide between the super-rich and the rest of us. He recognizes that the survival of the middle class is intertwined with the plight of the poor and communities of color. And at every occasion, whether in front of rich, middle class or poor audiences, Edwards reaffirms his commitment to giving voice to people who for too long have been voiceless. Where some cynically choose to see political rhetoric, we see someone who identifies personally with the challenges faced day in and day out by people across this country, including the middle class, working poor and people of color.
The values held so deeply by John Edwards are at the core of the movements that have made this country great-such as the civil rights and labor movements. These people-driven movements have rightly recognized that economic and social justice is fundamental to our nation’s well-being and esteem. To bring meaningful change we need to embrace what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in the 60s and what John Edwards tells us today: We are all in this together and we each hold the power and responsibility to make a difference.
In his campaign, Edwards has rejected the politics of caution, and more than any other candidate, has presented bold and specific plans of action to provide affordable healthcare to all Americans and to bring opportunity and economic fairness to working people and their families. His visionary initiatives directly address and respond to the challenges facing working families and communities of color.
For these reasons and others, he is the candidate that can best lead this country once again in the direction of peace and prosperity. Long-term care workers across California are proud to join his campaign of optimism and conviction.
Tyrone Freeman n is President and Amanda Figueroa is Secretary-Treasurer of the United Long-Term Care Workers’ Union, (SEIU, Local 6434), representing more than 150,000 homecare and nursing home workers throughout California.