SEIU Sparks Leaders in St. Louis

Member activist Michael Hall sharing his story during the Ignite conference in St. Louis

To Ignite: to cause to burn, to set fire to, to arouse the passions of, to bring about or provoke suddenly; stir up

Leadership is the ability to inspire, develop, collaborate with, and organize with others to take action and successfully achieve a common goal.

St. Louis Missouri was the backdrop for SEIU International's IGNITE Leadership Conference that took place from March 7th to March 10th at the St. Louis Convention Center. 31 Canadian delegates with representation from the hospital, long-term care and community care sectors, took part in the event, connecting with more than 1,000 SEIU members, staff, officers and activists from all across the United States. The purpose of the conference was to unite a diverse community of leaders to strengthen and grow power for all workers by building long-term strategy and vision that achieves economic equality and political power for working people to improve the conditions of the communities in which we live.

Unionized and non-unionized members shared stories of triumphs and struggles with the aim to educate and enlighten all those who were in attendance as well as engage those following online via social media. From insightful discussions on capitalism and its contribution to the oppression of the working class, to heart-felt testimonials of children in fear that their parents would be deported, the conference was both hopeful and tearful.

During the conference, IGNITE participants committed to mobilize their friends, family and coworkers to support the April 15 National Day of Action. The Fight for $15, is SEIU International’s initiative to secure a living wage for all workers who make well under the poverty line, a battle that is far too familiar to the struggles that our own PSWs have been fighting right here in Ontario.

From the front-line struggle for racial equality, the fight for $15, and the fight for a fair immigration policy, SEIU is leading the charge for social justice. Participants spent constructive hours in workshops learning from each other as well as how to build labor movement leadership for the 21st century.

For many of the Canadian delegates, the IGNITE Leadership conference helped bridge the gap between our members and the issues facing our American brothers and sisters in the labour movement, showing that many of the challenges affecting their economic climate, can and will be up for discussion within the walls of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

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