Healthcare workers elect champions in some key races, will continue to hold all electeds accountable to working people.
With the historic election of Ed Gainey as the next Mayor of Pittsburgh, our SEIU members and frontline workers who endorsed Gainey in the primary and worked diligently to see him elected celebrated the momentous achievement!
As we noted in our election night press statement from Matthew W. Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania:
“Mayor-elect Gainey’s remarkable victory is a strong and inspiring reminder of what is possible when working families come together to elect a transformational leader who will take on powerful interests like UPMC, the largest private employer in our state, and invest in all communities…
“As the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh, Ed Gainey will lead the city through a transformation toward social, racial, and economic justice. And while no single election can change or alter our long history of structural racism and inequality, Tuesday’s election is an important step in building an economy and healthcare system to benefit all families…
“Ed Gainey’s election tonight marks a major turning point and opportunity for Pittsburgh, and our entire State. We must seize this moment and continue to center our politics on investing in working families again and tear down the walls of poverty, anti-Black racism, discrimination of all kinds, and the gross inequities within healthcare, education, and housing. It is a cause and a fight our SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to leading.”
Home Care Leader Kearni Warren Shakes Up Chester’s Establishment
On the other end of the state, in Chester, Kearni Warren’s journey from serving as a home healthcare aide to running an inspiring grassroots campaign shook up the political establishment! Although she fell short of winning, Kearni’s vision and hard fought race shows the power and possibility of a new and transformational politics.
Warren, a bold leader and relentless advocate with our union, United Home Care Workers of PA (UHWP), showcased her astonishing leadership and skills as an organizer and true advocate for a host of issues facing essential caregivers.
Kearni Warren ran as a Green Party candidate that inspired and mobilized her community and home care workers from across Pennsylvania. Workers saw her race as an opportunity and a vehicle to finally have our voices heard and to be represented by a leader who understands the struggles of caregivers who continue to earn low-wages and are fighting for the right to join the union.
“Kearni Warren is an inspiration to me and to every Black woman and family I know,” said Andrea Lamour Harrington, who has worked as a caregiver for 10 years in Chester and is a strong supporter for Warren. “We clearly wanted a different result from this election. But the issues and the enormous energy and passion generated by Kearni isn’t just going to go away. We started a movement here in Chester for a better and more responsive local government and we need to continue that fight!”
Kearni Warren said she decided to run for office after she was disrespected by the Mayor of Chester when he interrupted a community meeting held on Zoom in June of 2021. The Mayor had completely insulted and disrespected both her and other community leaders raising concerns about pollution and environmental concerns. She decided it was time to get into the ring and fight for the change.
“It was breathtaking watching a home care worker, a Black woman no less, who has overcome so many barriers and obstacles of disrespect, low pay, and told not to speak up, decide that ‘enough is enough’ and run for City Council in Chester PA. That takes an enormous amount of courage and risk to take on the political establishment like Kearni did,” said Wendell Royster, Vice-President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and President of the local chapter of AFRAM.
“No matter the final vote tallies, my heart is just swelling with pride and emotion right now for what Kearni Warren has achieved. Kearni’s grassroots campaign advanced the issues for Black women and home care workers everywhere,” said Wendell Royster.
Matthew W. Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania added, “Her future is bright and her possibilities are endless. I truly hope and believe that we will get to see more of Kearni in the future, serving as a bold and visionary leader in her community, no matter where that takes her.”
Judicial Races Across PA
Unfortunately key judicial races in the Commonwealth, including PA Supreme court and Commonwealth court, did not go to the pro-worker candidates that union members supported.
The importance of the Courts cannot be overstated. State judges make decisions on issues like our union rights, access to healthcare, voting rights, and the quality of the water we drink and the air we breathe.
These results are a reminder that caregivers must increase our advocacy and continue fighting for our shared values – at work, through our contracts, and with all elected leaders.
Other Statewide Results
- Caregiver-endorsed Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner wins re-election
- For the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Timika Lane lost to Megan Sullivan, a prosecutor. (Timika Lane, a Philadelphia judge whom we endorsed, spoke at our Leadership Assembly on October 19th).