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Citizenship in the Workplace

David Huerta is being honored as a Promoting Citizenship in the Workplace Champion of Change.

David Huerta

David Huerta is being honored as a Promoting Citizenship in the Workplace Champion of Change.

For centuries, this nation’s economy has been strengthened by the backbreaking work of immigrant laborers who built our infrastructure and put food on our tables. This immigrant legacy makes me proud to serve as President of SEIU United Service Workers West, a union comprising workers from all walks of life who are contributing to the prosperity of our great country.

Whether they are out in the streets demanding a living wage and decent benefits, or talking to their elected officials to stop wage theft or inappropriate police practices, immigrant workers in our union are paving the way to a better way of life for everyone in our communities. The goal is simple: provide better opportunities for our kids than what we had growing up.

We’re accomplishing that in a unique project called Building Skills Partnership, which brings together workers, employers and building owners to give immigrant workers a fair shot at career advancement and community engagement. The collaboration has allowed more than 1,000 immigrant workers to participate in English language classes, computer literacy programs, and other educational trainings.

Integrating new Americans into our communities has also been a priority. SEIU locals in California, including United Service Workers West, have partnered with Mi Familia Vota to assist over 5,400 Legal Permanent Residents with the citizenship process. Together, we’ve developed broad coalitions throughout California that have been instrumental in ensuring that California leads the way on legislation that respects and values the contributions of immigrants, such as enabling them to obtain drivers' licenses and to receive in-state tuition.

Looking back at these accomplishments, I’m truly honored to be named a “Champion of Change” for promoting citizenship in the workplace, but I think the true recognition belongs to the brave janitors and other immigrant workers across California who are working to make sure that our country builds on all of our strengths to prosper in the 21st century.

David Huerta is President of SEIU United Service Workers West.