Friday, June 8, 2012

Eliseo Medina: SEIU

We have mentioned Eliseo Medina before but never formally introduced him.  He is a key player in the national Comprehensive Immigration Reform movement.

Medina is a former Executive director at the Service Employees International Union and is currently the treasurer.  The Los Angeles Times has referred to him as "one of the most successful labor organizers in the country" and he was named one of the "Top 50 Most Powerful Latino Leaders" in Poder Magazine.

Medina's career as a labor activist began in 1965 when, as a 19-year-old grape-picker, he participated in the historic United Farm Workers' strike in Delano, Calif. Over the next 13 years, Medina worked alongside labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and honed his skills as a union organizer and political strategist; eventually rising through the ranks to serve as the United Farm Workers' national vice president.

His interests in strategic organizing brought him to SEIU in 1986, where he helped revive a local union in San Diego--building its membership from 1,700 to over 10,000 in five years. He was a key strategist in the Los Angeles strike by SEIU Local 1877's building service workers, who in April 2000 won the largest wage increase in the 15-year history of SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaign. He also helped more than 100,000 home care workers in California advocate for the best quality care for the people they serve remain independent in their homes by securing funding to improve their quality of life.

In 1996, Medina was elected to serve as international executive vice president of SEIU. He made history by becoming the first Mexican American elected to a top post at the 2.1 million-member SEIU. His work has helped make SEIU the fastest-growing union on the West Coast and the largest union in California. Since 1996, more than 1.2 million workers across the country have united with SEIU, the nation's largest union of health care workers and the union with the largest membership of immigrant workers.

Medina has also headed SEIU's efforts to help workers in 17 states across the southern and southwestern United States--including Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia--unite in SEIU so they will have the strength to improve their jobs and the services they provide in their communities.

Randy Parraz knows Medina well.  Parraz said that he first met Mr. Medina in 2001 during Antonio Villaraigosa's first run for Mayor of Los Angeles.  Parraz was part of a "nonpartisan grassroots effort" spearheaded by Mr. Medina and SEIU to register and mobilize thousands of Latino workers/voters to participate and VOTE.

Sounds like Parraz has had a little more practice in "nonpartisan grassroots efforts" since then.

Medina was also seen encouraging the protesters at the Supreme Court building during the SB1070 hearing with words and the SEIU purple signs.

You can see his complete agitating speech at the Supreme Court here.

Sign seen in the window of the SEIU office in Washington DC:

Medina lives in Washington DC and has visited the White House at least 23 times over the last 3 years.  Obama received help during the 2008 campaign from SEIU and stated that before bringing up immigration, he would talk to Eliseo Medina of SEIU.  Medina is considered one of Obama's "advisers" who claimed in 2009 that "granting citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants would expand the progressive electorate and help ensure a progressive governing coalition for the long term...We reform the immigration laws, it puts 12 million people on the path to citizenship and eventually voters.”

Obama also said in 2008 that if he was elected President:

"Before debating health care, I'd talk to Andy Stern and SEIU members.  Before immigration debates took place in Washington, I'd talk with Eliseo Medina and SEIU members."

Medina's comments on SCOTUS and SB1070 hearing April 2012:

“The Supreme Court will have its say but we will have the final word. It is up to us, the people, to uphold our national values; to protect the rights of workers; to protect our right to vote; to fight discrimination and hate.

The vote is the great equalizer...When we vote, we can get rid of the nativist politicians who write these laws and we can get rid of the politicians who appoint judges that uphold racist or unjust laws. The power is in our hands and we will make the difference.

We also are serving notice to the governors and state Legislatures of Arizona, Alabama and any other misguided state that contemplates similar laws: It’s time to leave your racist past behind and come into the 21st Century. You can come willingly or you can come kicking and screaming, but you will come into the 21st Century. Because we have come too far to give up now.