For Immediate Release
Friday, June 22, 2012
Remarks of AFSCME Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes
Secretary-Treasurer Reyes gave the following acceptance speech at AFSCME’s 40th International Convention upon being sworn in as the union’s first ever woman secretary-treasurer.LOS ANGELES —
President McEntee, President Saunders, members of the International Executive Board, sisters and brothers:
I am proud and honored that you have chosen me to serve as International Secretary-Treasurer of this union we all love. Today, we celebrate not victory, but solidarity. We celebrate not a campaign won, but a collective vision affirmed. A vision that promises a better future for AFSCME members and working families throughout this country.
We’ve had quite a week, filled with joy, challenges, excitement and, yes, tension. But that emotion comes from our singular passion for public service.
I want to recognize Danny Donohue and Alice Goff for all they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them, to move AFSCME forward. I want to thank President Gerald McEntee for building a strong, sturdy foundation of our great union. I want to thank President Lee Saunders, for providing this incredible opportunity and encouraging me to run. I want to thank every woman who has mentored and supported me along the way.
Sisters, we are chipping away at that glass ceiling bit by bit. And I can’t wait to work with you to break through that ceiling for once and for all.
I am a proud rank-and-filer, a proud homecare provider. And for that, I have my sisters and brothers of UDW to thank. You are my family, and I will always have your back.
I want to thank Doug Moore, Johanna Puno Hester, and Flo Walker.
I'd also like to thank my parents, Bill and Bonnie, and my three beautiful children, Damian, Christian and Diana Ruth. Without the support of my family I would not be standing here today. I love you all more than you can imagine. You constantly remind me why this work is important. And you give me hope that, together, we can build something worthwhile.
And I want to thank everyone here. Just minutes ago, we raised our hands. President Saunders, the International Vice Presidents and I took an oath. A decades-old oath, it still rings true today. We pledged to fight for a society where all workers can seek economic and social justice. We vowed to do that through organizing, through political action and through collective bargaining. And, sisters and brothers, we will.
We will dig deep into every state, every city to organize new workers from every sector. Our reason for organizing is not just to collect more dues, or boast higher numbers. Our reason for organizing is our reason for being: to give every worker a fair shot in a world where the decks are stacked against us.
We will fight for fair contracts. Pay, pensions, non-discrimination measures, health care, workplace safety, leave –it’s all on the table. And we will give up nothing for working families. As leaders, I can tell you that we take our oath seriously. I ask you to take it seriously, too.
Everyone has a part in making our union great. Everyone has a voice in our fight for fairness. Everyone has a hand in moving our union forward.
America is indeed at a crossroads, sisters and brothers. But AFSCME is not.
AFSCME is on a single path toward fairness for all. We must bring as many as possible along for the journey. That won’t always be easy. But I know with President Lee Saunders as our brother and our leader, we will keep moving forward together.