For child care provider Anna Rodriguez teaching and leading never stops. That includes joining the Women’s March on Saturday in Santa Cruz with her adult daughters and demanding justice and equality for women, immigrants and low-wage workers in their workplaces and from elected leaders.
“I’ve always lived by the mantra that I need to teach and lead by modeling it myself. I want my children to see their mom in action and know their mom doesn’t just talk, she walks the walk,” said Anna, a member of Service Employees International Union Local 521 and child care provider of 20 years in Watsonville.
As a leader in her union, Anna has been at the forefront pushing for respect and dignity for the 60,000 child care providers in California, including the right to form a strong union and collective bargaining to help providers achieve better working conditions. She’s met with state leaders, California’s gubernatorial candidates and rallied other providers to join the union as members work to improve the state’s child care system for all families.
“The Women’s March is another way of me showing up in unity with others and saying enough is enough,” Anna said. “You feel so empowered and encouraged when you do.”
She felt empowered too as saw the rise of #metoo movement in the fall. Anna said she thought not only about her own experiences of being sexually harassed over the years but also about her grandmother who migrated from Mexico and was abused as she tried to build a better life for her family. For Anna, the plight of child care workers and low-wage workers – many who are women of color and immigrant women – is interwoven with the #metoo movement, and adds to the many reasons to rise up and march on Saturday.
“I grew up during a time when everyone had to stay quiet about sexual harassment and you just had to deal with it,” she said. “Now, I’ve seen this change where women are speaking up about so many things – respect for women in our workplaces, fair conditions for low-wage workers, protections for immigrants and running for office. I need to be part of every opportunity to push for change, to speak out and show up.”