I would like to first thank SEIU-West for giving me the opportunity to attend this event. It was an honor to be acknowledged and appreciated, and to be given an award in the said SEIU International event. Thank you.

The highlights for me were: first the workshops- they were eye openers, helpful, and engaging. Secondly, I did enjoy the fashion show during the Gala night, it was very entertaining. Thirdly, the solidarity of Latino, African American and Asian Pacific Islander caucus was inspiring to see it shows strength when we work all together with one vision.

My key Learnings are as follows:

  • First, in every struggle, even in every union endeavor, there’s always light at the end of every tunnel. If there’s hardship, there’s also battles won, just strive hard to win all the time, and do your best and not your second best.
  • Second, do not forget that we have strength in numbers.
  • Third, diversity is our strength.
  • Fourth, being intentional in all the work that we do.
  • Fifth, find commonality to be able to engage other members.
  • Lastly, get out of your comfort zone to be heard, speak your mind. Strive to be seen, be represented at every table, move forward, be bold and if needed, seek the guidance of our union leaders.

On the first day of the summit, I chose the workshop Leadership development build a team, Build a community. I learned that we must demand respect. Build a community that allows others to bring problems or issues and find ways to solve those problems. Know how to create the space and structure to grow and sustain our caucus or committee.

The first and main issues in every diversity caucus are language differences or language justice, and culture history. We need to fight to have equal rights when it comes to understanding what is being discussed or said. If you need an interpreter, let the leaders know. 

During community outreach, our aim is to be educated and at the same time to educate. Communicate, engage with other members, learn the organization structure of your union, caucus or committee, who can assist you and who you can assist. We need to look for more information to give to our members, and let members know what benefits they can get by joining us and by being an active union member. Have a definite goal and ask why you are in a team and why you want to build the community or committee.

How to make the members engage? First, keep the members motivated, keep a positive mind set, attend meetings, create or give support, organize, empower the members, always check on members, (not only the new ones) create equity for everyone, lastly, to mentor and become a good leader.

What can we do to overcome different challenges? In language barriers, language justice, we can use we chat, this is an app that uses different languages translations, it’s free. In member engagement, find specific issues that will attract other members to come to the meeting, for example the use of QR codes. Another one that came up is transparency, why join the union? How is SEIU different from others? Lastly is how to increase the membership.

Why do we need union was also discussed. First, having a CBA is power, union is power. If you do not knock on the door, it won’t open. If you miss the opportunity to belong to a union, you won’t experience the different advantages of being in a union.

On the second day, the history of API (Asian Pacific Islanders) was told. Different immigrant stories were highlighted with their struggles. One of them was for freedom and the opportunity to be heard. Our own stories are important, and because they belong to a table, in government, they mentioned that it is important that we can be at the table. We are still considered perpetually foreigners, even though we are part of the front-line workforce for how long? We are still being treated as 2nd class citizens, that's why they encouraged us to tell our different stories, how we fought and how we became represented in different positions, what does it feel to be in leadership and be heard for a change?

Prior to the end of the plenary, the election of the next API executive and regional chairs was held. Yours truly was elected as chair of Canada SEIU-West API caucus, I explained to the leadership that we do not have an API caucus, they wanted to help me to organize and start an API caucus, I explained again that we already have a committee that was formed for workers of colors. To end the conversation, I told to the chair of Canada region that I will have a conversation with our local President about this topic.

Again, I was so humbled and delighted to be part of this caucus this year. I can’t thank SEIU-West enough for this great experience. Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for your trust, and always believing in me.

Jeanne Javinal

Multicultural Mentorship Committee - Chair

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