Listening to Our Family

Nate Waters, Chair, Human Rights Committee

The Region V conference was a great big, joyful family reunion. Our UWUA brothers and sisters gathered for the first in-person meeting in two years, and I was overwhelmed with emotion as I stood at the podium and looked out over a sea of beautiful faces. Our family has evolved and today is more representative than ever before of our country’s diverse population. And I was particularly pleased to see that our sisters filled nearly half the room; what a long way we’ve come.

As chair of the Human Rights Committee, my responsibility is to ensure that the voices of all our members are heard, respected, and protected. The recent leak from the Supreme Court signaling the likelihood of an overturn of Roe v. Wade should shake all of us because it impacts our family on two fundamental levels. It attacks both our democracy and long-held legal precedent. But just as important, it threatens our sisters’ right to earn a living and provide for their families. The choice of when to have a child is at the core of our economic agency and self-determination. As a union, we must defend the rights of our sisters to work and support themselves and their families, regardless of our individual religious beliefs.

Sisters in this country have a long and sad history of oppression and have had to fight too many battles — for the rights to higher education, property ownership, the vote, public office, traditionally male-held jobs, holding credit in their own names, and more. We thought that Roe v. Wade had finally codified the right of women to make their own choices regarding their own bodies, a central tenet of liberty and economic self-determination. As union members, we must support our sisters’ right to control their own bodies and choice.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. To serve, all one needs is a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.” — Coretta Scott King