My name is Lois Yoshishige. I’m a recent retiree from the University of Oregon and Co-Chair of SEIU 503’s Climate Justice Committee. I had the opportunity to attend the SEIU Climate, Jobs, and Justice Summit via Zoom in April. I was so excited to participate with more than 400 SEIU members internationally, including forty-nine of us from Local 503! It was thrilling to know the summit had live interpretation in 7 languages: Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, French, and ASL!
I was proud to see the work of our SEIU 503 Climate Justice Committee mentioned in the 2-minute video “Celebrating our work over the past year” alongside the wonderful work other locals have done from all over North America. It was inspiring to learn from each other and get ideas on how we can win greater climate justice in our own areas.
Keynote speaker Mustafa Santiago Ali described the climate change fight, which I think is basically a fight against corporate greed. He reminded us that current policies were not made to protect us, which is why unions are so important. Dr. Astrid Caldas spoke of the urgency in organizing now on this issue: we need to figure out moving away from fossil fuel energy and onto renewables: wind, solar, water.
Then we got to choose a breakout group to learn more about one topic. I attended the Capital Stewardship breakout group led by our 503 President Mike Powers. He gave us an introduction to our PERS investments and how they relate to climate justice. We need to be engaged in how our investments could be undermining our retirement and our planet, and decide what to do about it.
We ended with a poll on actions we could take to make a difference in fighting climate change and environmental injustice, which I got to present. The options were:
* Participating in climate marches, rallies, and other events
* Advocating for changes in my job or at my workplace to address climate and environmental concerns
* Engaging in politics and elections
* Growing my union’s voice on these issues by becoming more active as a member leader
* Doing more at home to reduce waste, energy use, and water consumption and drive less
It was great to see, from the poll results, how fired-up we were after the summit! If you’re interested in joining our work, please request to join our Facebook Group or contact our staff advisor Jay Parasco at email@example.com. You can view highlights from the summit and learn more here. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear your thoughts!