Yesterday I was excited to announce that the SEIU California State Council has endorsed me in my race to represent California’s 10th Congressional District, a Northern California district encompassing parts of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties. With 700,000 members, SEIU is the largest labor union in California, and their ranks include a broad cross-section of working Californians, including social workers, nurses, classroom aides, security officers, college professors, homecare workers, janitors, and more.
Why I’m motivated to lead on single-payer health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, and green-collar jobs over the flip…
“With health care reform, affordable clean energy, and economic security for our nation’s families at the top of Congress’ agenda, we need leaders in congress who will be a powerful voice for working families in each of these important debates,” said Courtni Pugh, Executive Director of SEIU’s California State Council. “We know that John Garamendi will do just what he’s done in California – be an outspoken champion for people who work hard every day, for the elderly and people with disabilities who need a voice, for parents and their kids who deserve opportunities for a better future. We know John Garamendi won’t compromise our grandparents’ safety or our kids’ future.”
I want to take this opportunity to thank the SEIU California State Council for their important endorsement, and I want to let all of you know that when in Congress, I will continue to fight for progressive legislation that improves the lives of all Americans.
You will hear a lot from me over the coming months and years about the issues that have led me into public service, but given this most recent endorsement, I wanted to cover three issues that matter to working Californians: universal health care, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), and advancing green-collar jobs.
Medicare for All
I support single-payer health care. In 1965 we figured out how to make health care work for everyone – or at least everyone over the age of 65 – it’s called Medicare. Polls have consistently shown that an overwhelming majority of seniors enrolled in Medicare are satisfied with the service provided to them. Medicare provides universal coverage for seniors, is cost-effective, and patients are able to choose their own doctors. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a significant improvement over a profit-driven private health insurance industry that rewards early termination of coverage for patients in need of care and includes excessive overhead for advertising and administrative costs.
I also think healthcare reform this year must include the public option. As I’ve always said, if we don’t yet have the votes for truly comprehensive universal health care reform, we should not stand in the way of incremental health care reform, provided we are clearly heading down a path toward universal Medicare for All access. My longstanding advocacy on these issues as a state legislator, Insurance Commissioner, and Lieutenant Governor also led the California Nurses Association to endorse my run for Congress, and I am humbled to have the support of nurses.
The Right to Organize
I am also a proud supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). As I explained at a labor rally in March:
“It is time for a change, because the working men and women of America and the working men and women of California have taken the short end of the paycheck for too long. In 1965, the CEOs had a ratio of 24:1 on their paycheck. What happened in the ensuing years? In 1980, it went to $42 for the CEO and $1 for working men and women. In 2006, what happened? It went to $364 for every dollar you earn.”
Approximately 60 million non-unionized Americans say they would join a union if given the opportunity, and when in Congress, I will work to make sure that working men and women have the opportunity to join a labor union without undue delay or fear of unjust termination.
What’s Good for the Planet is Good for Labor
I also believe smart government policy can help create new quality jobs, and with the ravages of global warming and pollution more apparent by the year, the time was yesterday to employ Americans in fields that make our economy more sustainable. Weatherizing buildings, constructing public transportation corridors, and installing wind turbines, solar panels, and other alternative energy sources have and will continue to create quality jobs. If our country is to maintain its status as the world’s innovator, if our country is to retain its economic competitiveness, then a robust investment in green-collar jobs must be a priority for our country.
I was happy to see President Barack Obama appoint Van Jones as his green jobs advisor, and I share his conviction that environmental advocates must focus on demonstrating the interconnectedness of environmental protection and job creation for the working class. And believe me, I am no stranger to this issue.
As a state legislator, I was the author of the first legislation proposing high speed rail in California, and under a proposition I authored (Prop 111), California generated billions of dollars for mass transportation. I also authored a bill that offered the first tax credit in the state for wind turbine construction, including the wind turbines that exist near Fairfield in Solano County. These projects represent the best of California, and the future of our economy. In Congress, I will continually stress the importance of an environmental agenda that works for everyone, including inner city and rural communities and communities of color.
As you may know, today we face an important filling deadline where we have to report contributions from supporters. You know where I stand on these issues, and I plan on addressing your additional comments and questions throughout the week. If you could spare even $5, $10, or $25, our campaign would be most appreciative. If you live in the area and would be interested in volunteering for a strong advocate for working and middle class Californians, please sign up on our campaign website. And of course, I’d love to see you follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Yesterday I was proud to receive the endorsement of SEIU. I would be honored to have your support today.
P.S. I also have a blog post up on Calbuzz about offshore oil drilling with the California Department of Finance’s Tom Sheehy: Calbuzz Face-Off: Drill Baby Drill, Yea or No Way? Check it out and let Calbuzz know what you think.
John Garamendi is the Lieutenant Governor of California and a candidate for California’s 10th Congressional District. He is a University of California Regent and California State University trustee and was California’s first elected State Insurance Commissioner, a former Deputy Interior Secretary under President Bill Clinton, a state legislator, and a Peace Corps volunteer. Please visit http://www.garamendi.org for more information.