April Verrett—elected to be SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer in June of 2022—also serves as President of SEIU Local 2015, California’s largest local union, and the nation’s largest long-term care union, representing more than 400,000 long-term care providers, working in both nursing homes and private homes throughout California.
Although now based in Los Angeles, April’s story begins proudly on the South Side of Chicago. She was raised by her grandmother who worked as a locker room attendant for the Chicago Park District.
April’s exposure to Union activism started right there in childhood. When her grandmother’s Union elected its first Black president, something about seeing herself reflected in that leader made her want to get involved in her Union. This grandmother—who grew up in the Jim Crow south, didn’t have a high school diploma, had been a teenage mom—was the smartest woman April’s ever known. She knew every question on Jeopardy, always had a book in her hand, and her leadership blossomed as a Union Steward for SEIU Local 46. Watching this, April learned early on the values of perseverance, collective action, and community.
Prior to joining SEIU Local 2015, April served as Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana (HCII), where she played an instrumental role in holding corporations accountable and advocating for them to pay their fair share in taxes. She helped start United Working Families (UWF), an organization that connects grassroots organizations to build political power and hold elected officials accountable.
April also leads nationally for SEIU International. She is an International Vice President, chairs the union’s National Home Care Council, co-chairs the National Organizing Committee, and is a member of the Finance Committee.
She has been tapped twice by Governor Newsom, first in 2019 to serve on the Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force, established to develop a plan to address and manage Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related conditions throughout California. Again in 2020, he selected her for his Taskforce on Business and Jobs Recovery. April’s work on the Taskforce is helping to reopen the fifth largest economy in the world post-COVID-19 and ensure that the needs of all working families are front and center in the process of rebuilding our economy equitably.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic showed in stark and startling, irrefutable data that women, people of color and vulnerable elderly were hit hardest by the pandemic in nearly every measure—illness, death, economic struggle, unemployment.
In addition to addressing these issues through the work of the Union, April is a member of the Committee for Greater L.A., a coalition of diverse leaders who came together to understand the impact of COVID-19 on different populations. In September of 2020, the committee released its No Going Back report, which called for an analysis of the multifaceted lives of Black people in Los Angeles. In order to address the generational inequalities Black communities face, the Black Experience Action Team was assembled, with April appointed as chair. With her leadership, a follow-up plan—which serves as a necessary roadmap to improve the material conditions and outcomes of all Black Angelinos throughout the County—was release in August 2021. This roadmap is a love letter to Black Los Angeles: The Path to Justice Runs through Equity: Ending Anti-Black Racism in Los Angeles lays out specific action items for lawmakers, philanthropists, business owners, and community leaders to achieve meaningful progress in issues ranging from housing and homelessness, poverty, lack of political power, policing and mass incarceration, education and our children, physical and mental health, and environmental justice. April notes that a focus on Black Los Angeles ultimately solves issues for the whole community.
In 2021 April was elected as controller of the California Democratic Party. April provides a new voice and perspective to the CDP leadership team. She prioritizes the development of the next generation of leaders, ensures that the Party is an actively anti-racist organization and that we use our collective power to make the California dream a reality for all.
April’s emphasis on creating uncompromisingly anti-racist structures is especially evident in the culture of SEIU Local 2015. The local extends its commitment to racial justice in its hiring, purchasing, contracting, internal and external communications, and ensuring inclusivity for all members. The Union consistently translates meetings and Union literature in eight languages. This invites leadership from members who would otherwise be marginalized and, essentially, voiceless. Having a Union means having a voice—and at SEIU 2015, all members speak.
April is also an advisory board member of Advancement Project California, a leading racial justice organizations that utilizes research and data to expand and shift public investments toward programs that benefit all Californians. She also serves on the board of Smart Justice California, which educates and emboldens policymakers who support meaningful criminal justice reforms that promote safety, fairness and healthy communities.
SEIU Local 2015 also fosters deep partnerships with disability, age-in-place, and other justice organizations, both here in California and nationally. As April says, “Our movement for dignity for long-term care providers was built alongside the disability and elder rights movements.”
In summary, April is a fighter for working people. The loss of her mom, dad, and grandmother—all who died black, poor and relatively young of preventable causes—turned April into a tireless advocate for Unions, driven by the belief that they “give workers a platform to fight for more than wages, benefits, and working conditions—they strive to improve everything that matters in their lives and their communities.”
April, who has dedicated most of her career helping workers form their Unions, calls for a 21stcentury labor movement that is at its core anti-racist. This new labor movement must center on ending poverty in our cities, states, country and world. She knows that a Union can’t simply encourage its members to fight for their individual economic needs, but must join the larger movement and build power together to fight for every single kind of justice—economic, racial, environmental, gender, disability, generational, social, housing—to build strong communities.
April Verrett’s awards and recognitions…
- Justice in Aging’s 2022 Paul Nathanson Distinguished Advocate Award
- April was named Campaign Co-Chair of United to House L.A., working to pass legislation to reduce homelessness and create new jobs
- 2022 California Black Women’s Collective Trailblazer Hall of Fame Award
- 2021 Family Values at Work “Game Changer” Labor Champion Award
- 2021 National Consumers League Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award
- 2021 Pilipino American Los Angeles Democrats Larry Itliong Labor Champion Award
- 2020 InnerCity Struggle Luisa Moreno Award (…at the 46:01 mark)