The Southern Maine Workers’ Center is a member-led organization. Our members represent a broad base of Mainers who are impacted by injustice in the health care system and in the workplace. We have a multi-racial, multi-class membership that includes young and middle-aged workers, low-wage workers, people of color, white people, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. Our members work in a variety of industries, are retired, or are unemployed. Some of our members live in bigger cities like Portland, while others are part of more rural communities like Oxford.
Our members are committed to working together for solutions to the injustices they and their loved ones face. Here are some reflections on the SMWC community in their own words:
For me, being a member is about feeling connected, capable, and inspired. I’ve developed a sense of shared hope with people in my neighborhood, city and state about our ability to care for each other. With SMWC’s support, I attended national gatherings and returned home to nurture a deeper sense of connection between what we are doing here in Maine and people’s movements across the U.S. and beyond.
From listening to folks’ stories, I’ve realized the vast difference between having health insurance and having health care. People desperately want and need access to good quality care. Their health care stories function as a journal of both human suffering and healing. Conducting surveys is collecting evidence, and the evidence shows that people want to be treated with dignity, whether they are in a moment of vulnerability or in a moment of strength. Every conversation and every survey leads to the same conclusion: health care is a human right.
I’m a member for selfish reasons: Because I want a community that’s fit to live in–where my neighbors can afford to feed and house their families, raise their children, and care for their health. Where they work not in weariness, anxiety, and exploitation, but in security, with respect for their rights and fair value for their labor. Because I want the honor of walking in the steps of my heroes–Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, the women of the Lawrence textile strike, and so many more–arm in arm with friends whose hearts are filled with courage, hope, and love.