The Stand

Perreira joins WSLC as Director of Racial and Gender Justice

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SEATTLE (Sept. 9, 2020) — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (WSLC), the largest union organization in the State of Washington, is proud to announce the hiring of Kasi Marita Perreira as its new Director of Racial and Gender Justice.

Perriera will be responsible for implementing the WSLC’s internal and external racial and gender justice programs and campaigns as outlined by WSLC Convention Resolutions. This position will also adhere to the mission and constitution of the Council, which states, “We shall combat resolutely the forces that seek to undermine the democratic institutions of our nation and to enslave the human soul. We shall strive always to win full respect for the dignity of the human individual whom our unions serve.”

“We are very pleased and fortunate to have Kasi join the WSLC team to do this critically important work,” said WSLC President Larry Brown. “Our affiliates have been very clear. They want the council to lead Washington’s labor movement in challenging all of us — union leaders, staffers and rank-and-file members — to understand our responsibility and stake in advocating for racial and gender justice. Kasi is an experienced labor organizer who is passionate about these issues and I’m confident she will help the WSLC build upon our work in these areas.”

Perreira is an organizer, artist, loving partner and mama of two. She joins the WSLC after 15 years of organizing working people from the Bay Area to North Carolina with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and a lifetime of advocating for social justice. As Organizing Director at UFCW 21, she focused on member-led, equitable leadership development and helped to bring thousands of members into her union.

“In my work at UFCW, I experienced first-hand how corporations and people in power exploit our differences, rooted in racism and white supremacy, in order to maintain power and profit,” Perreira said. “I also witnessed the resiliency and power of working people through solidarity. We deserve liberation, a just future, and the opportunity to heal generations of oppression, together.”

She adds:

Gunalchéesh sh yáa awudanéix’i. Gunalchéesh Duwamish, gunalchéesh Coast Salish. Heen Shawat yoo xát duwasáakw. Dłeit káa x‘eináx Kasi Marita Perreira yoo xát duwasáakw.  Ch’aak naax xát sitee. Hoots hít áyá haa naa kahídi.

Translation*:

Thank you self respecting people reading this! Thank you Duwamish, thank you Coast Salish, indigenous people of this land. I am called Heen Shawat, which means Water Woman in my ancestors’ language Łingit. I am called Kasi Marita Perreira in English. I am of the eagle moiety. Our clan house is bear.

Learn more about land acknowledgement and develop your own practice, regardless of where you live.

BACKGROUND

Delegates at the 2015 WSLC Convention passed a resolution to examine and address Race & Labor in Washington state. As a movement, we witnessed the murders of Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, a bible study group in South Carolina (Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson), as well as local Black and Brown people, too many to name. We also witnessed the creation of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the rising leadership of young people, women, and LGBTQ+ leaders here in the Northwest and around the world. The 2015 resolution is a call to action for the Labor Movement to look within ourselves, to address our shared history of racism share a collective journey towards freedom. A Race & Labor task force was created, assembled by the President and Secretary Treasurer of the WSLC, who developed a training that was shared across the state. Much work remains with regard to conducting trainings and building the capacity of the WSLC’s affiliates to conduct their respective racial justice programs. Work remains, also, with regard to evaluating what has been accomplished.

Fast forward to 2020, this moment calls on us to be clear and focused in our racial and gender equity work. Organized labor faces unprecedented, orchestrated, and frequent attacks from billionaires and bosses that seek to break the power of working people’s solidarity. We continue to witness the murder of more Black and Brown people, Black Trans siblings and young people: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Monika Diamond, too many to name. All while battling the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color, people are taking to the streets and to the workplace. Working people are confronting a hostile economic environment, attacks on our dignity, and existential threats to our jobs and our communities. Our sisters, brothers, and siblings face these challenges against the backdrop of racism in our systems and in our movement.

The Director of Racial and Gender Justice for the WSLC will be a mediator for the labor movement. They will be educating but they will also be flagging problems, including problems within the movement as well as between organized labor and other social movements. The Director of Racial and Gender Justice will do this work in conjunction with a team of representatives from affiliates of the WSLC who will help in the design and implementation of further education programs; delivering appropriate programs; highlighting challenges facing organized labor; and assisting in outreach to other social movements. To truly be responsive to our affiliates’ directives, and the moment we are in, we must support the whole working person, fighting threats to the livelihood and well-being of working people on and off the job.

The Director of Racial and Gender Justice position will lead the work in these critical areas, assist our affiliates who are looking to implement equity programs, and allow us to fulfill the constitutional call to “fight the forces that seek to enslave the human soul.” We honor those who came before us, resilient ancestors who endured generations of oppression, and youth leadership to help envision a new future that includes healing and justice for all.

“As an organizer, I can’t help but think of how we can utilize the tools and skills that labor is known for, to advance our goals for racial and gender justice,” Perreira said. She adds:

“At every union, for every contract cycle, we have built the institutional know-how to mobilize thousands of union members to run a campaign, vote yes, vote down unacceptable proposals from management, or the ultimate – walk out on strike. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hours of one-on-one conversations, strategic planning and reconnaissance, as well as an overall assessment of where we are at, and where we want to be. Our inaction results in the continued division of the working class by the wealthy elite. It’s not just the last 4 years we’ve had to deal with, it is the last 400+. I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of so many fearless labor leaders who have paved the way to make this role possible.

“It is immediate and imperative that we listen to those who have themselves experienced disproportionate oppression for being Black, Female, Non-gender conforming, Queer, Immigrant or ‘Other.’ We need to find more fearless White Allies/Freedom Fighters in our ranks. I am also very aware that as a movement we have differing views, but as the Race and Gender Justice Director, I can commit myself to listening to everyone, and to help us find our path.

“Now, make sure you are registered and go VOTE!”

Contact Perreira by emailing her at kperreira@wslc.org or by calling the WSLC Seattle office at 206-281-8901.

 

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