‘Make no mistake that we stand with Ukraine’ — union holds rally, donates $10,000 to country fighting off Russian invasion
Serhiy Koledov, General Consul of Ukraine, expressed his gratitude for the donation from SEIU Local 1 and thanked the world for extending “a helping hand” since the “first minutes of war.”
One of the state’s largest labor unions expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine by donating $10,000 and hosting an interfaith prayer vigil Friday at Daley Plaza.
Genie Kastrup, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, handed the check to Serhiy Koledov, Ukraine’s consul general in Chicago, in front of about 100 people waving the country’s flag and holding signs calling for Russian aggression to cease. Among them: “No War in Ukraine” and “Close the Sky in Ukraine,” a call for NATO to implement a no-fly zone over the country’s airspace.
“SEIU [Local 1] is here today to make no mistake that we stand with Ukraine and will continue to support our members and their families during this distressing time,” Kastrup said. “The people of Ukraine, you’re an inspiration to us and the world is not only watching you but standing in solidarity with each of you.”
The money is going to Revived Soldiers Ukraine, a non-profit dedicated to providing aid to that country’s population.
Koledov expressed gratitude for the donation and thanked the world for extending “a helping hand” since the “first minutes of war” — but he also cautioned that the humanitarian crisis in his country continues to unfold, with more than 500,000 Ukrainians fleeing into neighboring countries.
“It’s very important today that we are here united,” Koledov said.
Kastrup said it was important for the union to show its support for Ukraine during this time since many of its members have strong ties to Eastern European countries.
Slawomira Chamiga, a Polish American and 25-year SEIU member, has a brother and sister in Poland “and like them, my heart hurts for our neighbors to the east,” she said.
“While this conflict seems so far away, it has an effect on many of my coworkers at Local 1 and their families and friends,” Chamiga said. “Our hearts are saddened and heartbroken for the Ukrainian community but we know the people of Ukraine are resilient.”
Leaders of the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church and the First Baptist Church in North Chicago each said prayers for the Ukrainian people.
Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said his family has roots in Croatia. Like so many others, his family came to the United States hoping for a better life. He hoped peace can be found somehow.
“We know from our families in Eastern Europe what it is like to live under authoritarian rule. We know what it is like to have the oppressor come in and try to take your rights away,” Reiter said. “We also know that seeking peace does not mean capitulation. It does not mean surrender. It means strength and resilience.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle attended the event, though she did not speak.
“The Russians unprovoked attack on the Ukrainians was profoundly disturbing and I think across the world people are impressed with the Ukrainian resistance,” Preckwinkle told the Sun-Times afterward. “I think Russia grossly underestimated the Ukrainian people and their willingness to resist tyranny — and God bless them.”