“The healthcare workers of 1199SEIU celebrate the release of freedom fighter Oscar López Rivera after 35 years in prison, and we thank President Obama for his many pardons. Oscar was sent to jail because of his deep belief that the people of Puerto Rico deserve democracy, justice and fair representation. These are the same principles that animated the American revolution against the British colonialists in 1776. To this day, although Puerto Ricans serve in our armed forces and pay billions a year in taxes, they still cannot vote in presidential and congressional elections. Oscar was always committed to service, earning a Bronze Star in Vietnam, and then upon his return, working as a community organizer to advocate for quality education and affordable housing. In addition to our many Puerto Rican members, thousands have called for his release over the decades, including the government of Puerto Rico, the American Association of Jurists, the AFL-CIO, the United Church of Christ, Bernie Sanders, Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Oscar had spent 12 years of his 70 year sentence in solitary confinement, and his human contact has been severely restricted. Now, he will be headed home to his family and we wish him health and joy in his newfound and long-overdue freedom.”

-George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East