Member interview: Bruce Boyer on Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month, a month where we celebrate the traditions, languages, and history of Native Americans.
We sat down with SEIU 1021 member leader Bruce Boyer, who works at Sacramento City Unified School District as classified staff.
Q: What tribe are you with?
A: I’m with the Apache tribe.
Q: What issues do you see for Native Americans in the workforce, and how do unions help?
A: I can’t say that I’ve experienced explicit racism at the workplace for being Native American. The closest thing I would say is that people automatically assume that I’m Mexican. I think that erases my identity as a Native American, and it erases the identity of people who look like me.
As for how unions help, in general unions promote diversity and equity – although I haven’t seen much education specifically about Native Americans.
Q: What more can unions do?
A: When I’ve been out doing organizing work, the fact that I’m Native American hasn’t been a negative or a positive. It just is what it is. I know the union used to have committees. There used to be a Native American committee, and I would like to see that again. And it would be good to reach out to different tribes in different areas.
I think it’s important to be focused on reaching out to minority populations, because otherwise we forget them. My niece is deeply involved in Native American community organizing, but she hasn’t really talked with the the unions; maybe there can be bridges built there.
Q: What do you want members to know about being a leader in the union and Native Americans?
A: I think unions level the playing field in terms of racial equality and pay for all people of color, and that does include Native Americans in unions.