SEA Members Join Other Labor Unions at Annual Event
SEA members joined labor leaders from around the state for the annual New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast on Monday in Manchester. The event, which brings together labor unions from around the state, featured Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, along with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster.
The SEA was represented by President Diana Lacey, First Vice President Ken Roos, Director John Amrol and members Art Ellison and Avis Crane. Crane, who’s been to the event many times before, said the event leaves her inspired and reinvigorated.
“What I get the most from it is the shared sense of purpose and mission that the labor movement has always been about,” Crane said. “Every year I go, I come away with that sense of a mission renewed and a sense that we can make some changes in this world.”
Crane said Sanders was clearly the highlight of this year’s event.
“He’s so totally impressive and inspiring,” she said. “He’s so clearly on the side of the regular people, instead of the extremely rich.”
Roos was equally impressed with Sanders’ speech.
“Some of the information that he presented, we knew bits and pieces, but he pulled it all together in a package that showed where the attacks are coming from,” Roos said. “That he was able to give us hope that there are people with the ability to respond to those attacks, and turn the tide, was refreshing.”
Sanders told those in attendance that the landmark Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court has put too much power in the hands of the very wealthy. He said the best way to take away that power is to unite.
“I believe when we stand together, we win because there are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of him,” Sanders said.
The event certainly serves to bring organized labor together, which Roos said is very valuable.
“It’s good to get all of these people together in a room where there’s not an ‘ask’ involved,” Roos said. “Instead we can focus on our commonalities, the common issues that are facing working families, and know that politicians from all levels are there to hear it.”
Amrol, who is a member of Chapter 1, has been involved with the breakfast for many years, spearheading it while he was executive vice president of the N.H. AFL-CIO.
“I think it’s great to get all the various organizations together, and it gives us a chance to talk directly with our political leaders about the issues that are important to us,” Amrol said.
Ellison agreed with Amrol.
“From a political perspective, we need a time to get all the activists together, and what better than 60 days before the election,” Ellison said. “With Bernie speaking, there was all this energy. It’s good to get together and get that good shot of adrenaline. I see it as a very positive experience.”