Her acceptance speech:
- It is with grace and great humility that I accept this award in honor of the thousands of hardworking men and women of my union, SEIU Local 32BJ.
- The vast majority of these freedom fighters are now in contract negotiations, and today, December 14, hundreds voted unanimously to authorize a strike if we do not reach a favorable agreement by December 31.
- I am incredibly honored to serve and fight alongside these amazing warriors. They teach me every day that, regardless of our differences, we have one struggle and we have to remain united against our common enemy. I carry their passion, their energy, their stories with me and it provides me with the fuel I need to keep going.
- Quite fittingly, on this day that I am honored, those who inspired me showed me their power by gathering by the hundreds in New Haven, Hartford and Stamford to say NO to the bosses’ attempts to intimidate them and to roll back the progress we have made over the years. We emphatically said NO to any GIVEBACKS and YES to fair wages, affordable healthcare and a decent pension.
- Our members work extremely hard and they deserve to thrive and to live with dignity and respect.
- At these meetings, our members and our President Kyle Bragg spoke passionately about the legacy of our great, late president Hector Figueroa. Hector devoted his life to ensure that the labor movement expanded and that labor used its influence to fight for economic, racial, environmental, and immigrant justice for all working people.
- A huge thank you to you our community champions who have stood side by side with us in this struggle. Our members will continue to hold strong, and I know you will be there every step of the way, and so I have no I have no doubt that we will win a strong contract this year. Can we do it? ¡Sí, se puede!
- I am a black woman, an immigrant, a woman of faith, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a proud labor organizer.
- It’s been my lifelong passion to empower, serve, defend and help others but sometimes it gets difficult to stay strong. Sometimes you feel like throwing in the towel. Sometimes you feel like giving up. In a world filled with so much despair and hate, it’s easy to get weary in well-doing. As we face the daily struggles against a system designed to oppress our most vulnerable, we have to remember that no matter how hard the obstacles we face in the fight for justice, it’s important to know who you are and to remain true to your passions.
- I know that this fight for justice is bigger than I am. It’s about leaving this world a little bit better for my two amazing children. It’s about staying united and strong in the face of what sometimes feels like insurmountable obstacles and speaking directly to that mountain of despair that "we will remain resolute in this fight, we will not give up!" Hate, greed and division will not prevail.
- So, in closing, don’t let nothing or no one put out your FIRE. Find the source of your power. For me, it’s my family, my church family, and my union family. I am reminded about a quote by Laura Esquival: "Each of us are born with a box of matches inside of us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves, we need oxygen, we need a candle" — we need each other.
- Today I watched hundreds of members standing together to join forces and declare that if we don’t get what we deserve at the table we will be going on strike come January 1,st and I can’t fully describe to you the mood and the feeling in the room. It’s a beautiful thing to watch people coming together for one common struggle, each of us igniting the passion within each other that creates an explosion and that’s what creates a movement — a movement that our hero Hector Figuroa would be proud of. Hector presente. We will win this for you!
Write Up on Event
- There was electricity in the air at New Haven City Hall on Dec. 14 2019 as seats throughout the long Atrium filled up for the People’s World Amistad Awards hosted on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. African drums and dancers led a procession with the awardees in a rousing open to the rally program.
- Standing ovations, applause, and singing punctuated speakers and performers as they addressed the theme “Rise Up—Unite 2020.: People and Planet Before Profits.”
- “To effectively repel this multi-faceted affront on the ideals that unite us, we must, simply, rise up and unite,” said Mayor Toni Harp who set the tone in welcoming everyone to City Hall.
- “We must restore people to their proper place before profits, we must prioritize our common good ahead of personal gain, and we must convince others to join us in this collective effort for the good of the planet—and for the good of all that depends upon it.”
- The historic location, beautifully decorated, was the site where the Amistad captives of 1839 were held before their trial, and where the Amistad statue is now placed, symbolizing solidarity and courage in the ongoing freedom struggle.
- Emcees Lisa Bergmann and Ben McManus recognized those who are in the midst of the big struggles of today, including climate justice protesters and students at Wilbur Cross High School who are rallying behind their classmate, Mario Aguilar, who is being held by ICE. Cosobi Mendoza, age 13, wowed the audience with several guitar selections, leading into the presentation of the awards.
- Awardees inspired the crowd as they spoke passionately about their work and vision. Each awardee was presented with the large framed award picturing the Amistad statue. After each made their remarks, Mayor Harp presented a citation.
- Rochelle Palache, political director of 32 BJ SEIU, declaring the rights of all workers to decent wages and benefits, called for support of building cleaners across the state who had voted unanimously that morning to strike if they don’t get a contract by Jan. 1. One week later, the workers won a contract that includes a fair wage increase and protects health benefits.
$15 minimum wage activists
Sarah Ganong May 17 2019:·