In This Section

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN

Movement Builders Awards 2016

November 22, 2016

Tonight’s a night where we are honoring people who have done incredible work, and it has never been more important to have such people in our movement.

When I interviewed for my first position at Align, I said that I thrive on challenges. When I took the position as Executive Director, I felt the same. I’ve always been someone who sees the way forward and fights to get there. But lately, that has been difficult. It’s been hard to face the enormous challenge that is coming.

I am going to be honest, it is not easy for me to stand here today and celebrate, knowing where our country is heading with the recent election results. It is not easy, but as I am seeing you all here showing your resilience, courage and optimism, I find the strength to continue building power together, against the forces that want to divide us. We are in a moment where we need to stand together, to move forward and build strong alliances to protect our workers and communities, and continue to fight for greater social, racial, economic, and climate justice.

Now, more than ever, community and labor need to link together to resist; standing in solidarity with our immigrant communities facing threats of deportation, women facing the threat of losing our power to own our body, workers facing the threat of losing workplace protections and rights to collectively bargain, communities of color facing the threat of racist violence, our environment facing the threat of destruction. I have confidence that by standing in unity, we’ll create a more resilient movement that can withstand these attacks. This is the mission of ALIGN and the critical role we play in our movement. We must build an alliance that unites us in the coming years, because an injury to one is an injury to all.

What we have is each other.

Building on this unity, there are many opportunities to win big for workers and communities in New York City. We have successfully shifted the discourse, framed the public debate, and made progress. I would like to name a couple of campaigns that exemplify the value of community labor alliances.

Transform Don’t Trash NYC won a major victory this year!!  In August, the Mayor committed to radically overhaul private waste collection in the city, which will strengthen jobs, increase recycling and improve air quality in NYC. Due to the strong bonds formed between labor, community and environmental justice groups through this coalition, the city is on the path to transform the commercial waste system that will greatly benefit both the planet the workers and communities of color who are most directly impacted under the current system. Now more than ever we need coalitions that unite labor and environmental justice groups to see their shared interest in fighting for good jobs and healthy communities. TDT is an example that when we unite, we win.

This year, Climate Works for All – a coalition of groups from across labor, environmental justice, and community – launched a new campaign called the Public Power Project to fight for an equitable transition to renewable energy in the public sector right here in our city.

We believe that sustainability and resiliency mean much more than putting solar panels on rooftops: We must also create good jobs and invest in our communities. And now more than ever, given the challenging national political landscape on the issues that we care so deeply about, we need to win big for workers, communities, and our planet right here, at the local level, in NYC and so many other places.

ALIGN is committed to moving forward together with groups locally and nationally to build inspiring models of change that tackle climate change and inequality, and we will make sure that these models spread like wildfire across our country, regardless of where the federal government stands.