My name is Ahmed Abdi and I was born in Somalia 1982. When the civil war broke in 1991, my family and I were forced to move to Dadaab Refugee camp in Kenya. The camp became our home for more than 20 years. Living in Kenya, my dream was to get the opportunity to come to the United States. I knew if I could make it to the U.S., I would be able to start a new life and support my family back home by finding a job and working tirelessly to succeed.
I finally arrived in Kansas City, Missouri in April of 2009 to work towards my dream. I thought the hard part was over, but I was completely wrong. My first job was at Tyson Foods, where I was paid $9 an hour processing frozen chicken, working in terrible conditions with no respect at all on the job. It didn’t matter if you were injured on the job or sick, you could never take a day off for fear of losing your job. After working a few months, I realized that I needed to do something about the unfair conditions my coworkers and I were experiencing. I started talking to my coworkers about what they were going through and the difficulties we all had at work.
At first, everyone was scared to talk or raise concerns because most the workers were immigrants and refugees, like me, and feared doing anything to jeopardize their new opportunity here in the U.S. I worked to encourage them to stand with me, and eventually, we were able to band together to address some of the safety issues.
In 2010, I moved to Seattle where I met my wife and went back to college. The following year, I got an internship as a community organizer at Working Washington and, for 3 months, knocked doors around the King County area talking to other immigrant and refugee families about their issues. I loved the work and, as my internship ended, I knew I wanted to become an organizer. I was hired on by Working Washington and soon started working on the campaign to raise wages at SeaTac airport. After two years of hard work and smart, strategic organizing, we helped pass one of the first $15 an hour minimum wages in the country for hotel and airport related workers in the city of SeaTac.
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with and on behalf of other new workers in this country and to share their stories and their struggle. I was always aware of my own struggle and the challenges that countless immigrants and refugees in this country face in trying to find work or in getting treated fairly in their jobs. Through these experiences, I continue to feel compelled to stand up for workers’ rights and fight as hard as I can to raise their voices and be heard.
Today I am the outreach manager at the Fair Work Center where I provide Know Your Right trainings for low-wage workers and particularly with immigrant and refugee groups.
I am also currently on the Board of Commissioners for the Seattle Housing Authority, acting as advocate to improve conditions for low income families.
I am running for Port Commissioner as a candidate for change. When elected, I will utilize my experiences to further improve the lives of the workers in and around the Port of Seattle.
I appreciate your support for my campaign!
Ahmed Abdi for Seattle Port Commissioner Position 3