Illinois

$13.45-an-hour wage cleared for takeoff at O’Hare, Midway airports

Oliwia Pac is in line for a $2.45-an-hour pay raise, but she feels like she won the lottery.

On Wednesday, the City Council guaranteed Pac and nearly 8,000 other contract employees at O’Hare and Midway Airports a pay floor of “no less than” $13.45-an-hour and secured their right to join unions.

“This raise means that I can finally afford my rent, get groceries, not have a hassle trying to pay off my student loans,” said Pac, who helps passengers in wheelchairs, escorts children traveling alone onto flights and works security at O’Hare Airport.

“It could be better. But this is a very big step that has occurred for us as airport workers. I’m just beyond ecstatic. We’re slowly but surely winning.”

Higher pay is not the only benefit for contract employees at O’Hare and Midway. The ordinance unanimously approved Wednesday also includes a “labor peace agreement” allowing baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, aircraft maintenance workers, security guards and other contract employees to organize without interference.

In exchange, contract employees would be prohibited from “engaging in strikes, picketing, work stoppages, boycotts or other economic interference.”

Pac said she has little doubt she and her co-workers will vote overwhelmingly to join a union.

“They’re the ones that are gonna help us be able to make proper wages, getting proper benefits, being able to get respect,” she said. “We have to report our tips. If we don’t report our tips enough, we are threatened with suspensions and terminations. There’s a lot of under-staffing. We have to break our backs by assisting two wheelchair passengers at once.”

Last month, Emanuel followed through on his promise to tie licenses for airport contractors to a “labor peace agreement.”

But the mayor’s ordinance goes beyond preserving the right to unionize. It requires those airline contractors and sub-contractors to pay their employees no less than $13.45-an-hour beginning on July 1, 2018, with annual cost-of-living increases after that. Employees whose wages include gratuities must be paid $1-an-hour more than the $5.95-an-hour minimum wage for tipped employees.

Tom Balanoff, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, called the mayor’s ordinance one of the biggest victories for organized labor to come along in years.

SEIU Local 1 is among a group of investors that recently purchased the Sun-Times. The union has been attempting to organize contract employees at O’Hare.

Balanoff said he has no doubt that most, if not all of the 8,000 workers will choose to join unions, including his.

Airlines for America has argued that there is “no legal or policy justification for imposing a higher minimum wage on a few thousand workers who provide services to one industry at two locations” and the city’s “status as an airport operator/proprietor does not give it authority to regulate private labor relations.”

But Deputy Corporation Counsel Diane Pezanoski has assured aldermen the ordinance is on solid legal ground because it “comes pretty much directly from a licensing and training program in Los Angeles” that was challenged unsuccessfully by the airlines and service providers at Los Angeles International Airport.

Check out the full story over at The Chicago Sun-Times!

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City Council approves law boosting pay, easing unionization for airport workers

The Chicago City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Wednesday that will give airport baggage handlers, janitors and other contracted workers a pay bump and make it easier for them to form a union.

The law, expected to affect 8,000 workers, requires airline subcontractors to abide by certain labor standards in order to receive a license to operate at O’Hare and Midway airports.

Starting July 1 of next year, companies must pay workers at least $13.45 an hour and establish labor peace agreements with any union trying to organize the workers. That means the union agrees not to strike or protest and the employer agrees not to resist the organizing efforts, which historically has led to more successful union elections.

Tipped workers, such as wheelchair attendants, must be paid $1 more than Chicago’s tipped minimum wage.

Airlines for America, an advocacy group for the airlines that hire many of the subcontractors, opposed the measure. It argued that the measure violates federal labor law by forcing a private employer into an agreement with a union that employees have not yet elected to join and that certain industries shouldn’t be subject to a higher minimum wage.

The ordinance, which was introduced in late July by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and backed by members of the Black, Latino and Progressive caucuses, is modeled after a similar law in Los Angeles that requires labor peace agreements and has so far survived a legal challenge.

The passage of the measure comes after a two-year campaign by the Service Employees International Union to highlight the pay and working conditions of Chicago’s nonunionized airport workers, who it seeks to add to its member rolls.

“It’s a win-win-win-win for airport workers, passengers, the city and the airlines,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff, whose union organized several protests and strikes to pressure lawmakers. “It’s going to start a process to make a better life for the workers here and make a safer, cleaner, more convenient airport for the passengers and help Chicago start to lift up all of our communities.”

The law covers baggage handlers, aircraft cabin cleaners, janitors, security officers, ticket-takers, de-icers and wheelchair attendants, among other workers.

Be sure to check out the full story over at the Chicago Tribune!

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Chicago set to raise airport workers’ pay, clear path to a union

Edith Alvarenga has spent the past 12 years picking up trash, sweeping up crumbs and mopping up spills — and occasional bodily fluids — that passengers leave behind on airplanes. And she loves it.

She loves that nearly everyone at O’Hare Airport knows her. She loves helping passengers, especially Spanish-speaking travelers, when they aren’t sure where to go. She loves seeing people arriving and departing, which makes her feel like she is traveling herself.

What Alvarenga says she doesn’t love about her job as a cabin cleaner in Terminal 3 is that she gets no benefits, that her $11.50 hourly wage is barely enough to make ends meet and that workers are sometimes treated unfairly.

So she is excited for Wednesday, when the Chicago City Council is expected to approve an ordinance that would boost the wages of O’Hare and Midway airport workers and clear the path for them to unionize.

“When we don’t like something, the best thing is to fight to make it better,” Alvarenga, a native of El Salvador, said in Spanish. “I like the work and I want to make this job better.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced the ordinance in late July after a two-year campaign by the Service Employees International Union to hold the city accountable for the pay and working conditions of airline subcontractors, part of a national push by the union as it seeks to add airport workers to its rolls.

Chicago’s ordinance makes labor standards part of the requirements for obtaining a license to provide services at O’Hare and Midway airports. It covers nearly 8,000 workers employed by contractors hired by the airlines, including baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, janitors, security officers, ticket-takers, de-icers and wheelchair attendants.

The ordinance states licensed contractors must pay workers at least $13.45 an hour starting next July 1, and raise the wage in proportion to the consumer price index every subsequent year. That gives them a leg up over Chicago’s minimum wage, which recently was raised to $11 an hour as the city gradually steps toward $13 by 2019.

Tipped workers like wheelchair attendants would get $1 more than the city’s tipped minimum wage, which currently is $5.95.

Contractors also would have to establish “labor peace agreements” with any union that asks, which means that the union would agree not to picket or call strikes and the company would agree not to resist organizing efforts. Such agreements don’t require an employer to recognize a union or enter into a collective bargaining agreement, but they can smooth the path to a union election.

“It certainly makes it easier to organize workers if they aren’t feeling threatened,” said Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich, spokeswoman for SEIU Local 1, which was behind several strikes and protests at O’Hare over the last two years.

The ordinance is opposed by Airlines for America, an airline advocacy group that counts United and American Airlines among its members. In a letter to Chicago’s Department of Aviation, the group argued that the labor peace provision violates federal labor law and is “ambiguous, internally inconsistent, and provides virtually no guidance regarding implementation.” In addition, “there is no policy or economic justification for establishing a separate minimum wage for just one small group of private sector employees working for one industry at two locations in the city.”

Other airports abide by airport-specific compensation requirements, including San Francisco; Seattle; Minneapolis; LaGuardia and JFK in New York; and Newark, N.J. Chicago modeled its ordinance after Los Angeles’ airport law, which contains a labor peace provision, because it withstood a legal challenge, SEIU said.

“This is about ensuring the highest standard and most efficient operations at Midway and O’Hare,” the mayor’s office said in a statement Thursday.

It is also about politics as SEIU, the massive union behind the Fight for $15 campaign, appeals to elected officials to advance worker interests and reach the growing segment of low-wage workers it would like to convert into members.

“They are using political maneuvering to gain access to a new labor market,” said Bob Bruno, labor professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. SEIU says 110,000 airport workers have won raises since it began its national airport campaign in 2012, and 22,000 have joined an SEIU union.

Emanuel’s ordinance came as another proposal to lift wages for airport workers, introduced in January, stalled in committee. Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th, in late June threatened to invoke a rule that would force that ordinance to the full Council for a vote, where he believed it had enough support to pass even without the mayor’s blessing. The next day SEIU issued a press release announcing it was having positive discussions with the mayor’s administration and Ald. Patrick O’Connor, 40th, chairman of the Workforce Development and Audit Committee, on legislation.

The Workforce and Aviation committees approved the mayor’s ordinance swiftly last week.

Pawar, a Democratic candidate for governor, said the issue is personal to him. His first internship while in graduate school involved working with refugees, many of whom worked at the airport, and he heard from them about low pay and alleged abuses such as wage theft.

“I told myself that if I was ever in a position to do something about this, I would,” said Pawar, who last year supported the union as it announced it had filed 80 complaints accusing O’Hare airport contractors of more than $1 million in wage theft, which can occur when people work off the clock or when employers don’t compensate tipped employees whose gratuities don’t get them to standard minimum wage.

“I believe, once this passes, that this will be one of the greatest victories for airport workers in the country,” Pawar said.

If workers unionize and are able to bargain for health benefits, paid leave, performance bonuses and other improvements, it would be a boon to an economy that has seen a decline in decent-paying middle-class jobs, Bruno said.

“They represent the growing sector of our economy, and something has to happen to lift them into the middle class,” he said. “If these workers don’t become middle class, then we will continue to see sluggish growth, we will see wages flatten out, we will have a seriously hollowed-out economy.”

Many airport jobs used to fetch decent middle-class wages and benefits, but that started to change in the 1980s and ’90s as airlines started to outsource the jobs to third-party contractors that paid the lowest wage people were willing to take, said Robert Mann, an airline industry consultant based in New York.

The change was driven by industry deregulation, competitive pressure from low-cost airlines and other economic shocks that prompted airlines to cut costs, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and airline restructurings, Mann said. Between 2002 and 2012, the outsourcing of baggage porter jobs more than tripled, while hourly wages declined by 45 percent, from $19 to $10.60 (in 2012 dollars), according to a report from the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California at Berkeley.

But while contracting out the work saves airlines money, it also leads to higher turnover and service gaps, Mann said.

“If you try to work the ramp in Chicago in the winter, it’s cold, it’s windy, it’s dangerous, especially at night,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to earn money indoors, you take that.”

Alvarenga, the cabin cleaner at O’Hare, said she joined the SEIU effort because her loyalty was not met with the respect she felt she had earned.

Alvarenga, 42, came to Chicago on a fiance visa in 2005 to join her now-husband, Saturnino, who had been her childhood neighbor in El Salvador. She got the job cleaning airplanes that same year after seeing an ad in the newspaper.

She started at minimum wage but earned a 25-cent raise each year, and was making $9.50 an hour when a new cleaning contractor took over in 2010. The new contractor, Prospect Airport Services, told the workers their wages would be reduced to $9, and that if they didn’t want it they could quit, she said. Most people stayed, she said, because they needed the paycheck and worried they might not find something else.

“It made me furious,” Alvarenga said, noting that her wage has risen to $11.50 not because of raises, but because the city raised its minimum wage.

Des Plaines-based Prospect Airport Services did not respond to a request for comment.

“I think what we need most is a union that sees the injustices and stops the abuses, more than anything against the Hispanics,” Alvarenga said, “because the Hispanics are those that are most discriminated against, and if they don’t speak English it’s worse.”

As she sat in her living room on Chicago’s Northwest Side, Alvarenga said she has dreamed of what she will do with the higher wage once the city approves the ordinance. She and her husband live with two of their three children and a yappy Chihuahua mix named Pepito in a tidy home on an otherwise industrial street, beside a parking lot for city garbage trucks.

Her first priority is to establish a savings account for her new baby, due to arrive this month, and help her other three other children — aged 21, 18 and 16 — go to good colleges.

“That’s the best inheritance I can give them, so they can get a career that allows them to support themselves,” she said.

She also wants to get on an airplane herself and take a vacation for the first time in four years. She plans to go to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Check out the full story over at The Chicago Tribune!

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Labor, City Council allies propose fair workweek ordinance

Arguing that “unpredictable” scheduling makes it tough to get ahead or balance work and family, organized labor and its City Council allies on Tuesday proposed a legislative remedy.

The “Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance” is patterned after similar legislation in San Francisco, Seattle and New York City.

If the City Council approves, employers would be required to give their hourly workers at least two weeks’ advance notice of what their work schedules will be.

If a schedule change is made with less than 24 hours notice, the employer would be required to provide one additional hour of pay for each changed shift.

Employers would be required to provide workers a written “good faith estimate” of the employee’s work schedule and minimum hours prior to or on their first day on the job.

Danny Rodriquez works as a wheelchair attendant, security officer and weekend shift manager at O’Hare. He also takes care of his grandmother, who suffers from mental illness and requires around-the-clock care.

“Sometimes, I can’t stay home. I can’t be by her side. Either I go to work or I have a chance of getting fired for me calling off. No one should be in that predicament,” Rodriguez said.

SEIU Local 1 is a proud supporter #FairWorkweek Ordinance! Read more over at The Chicago Sun-Times, including an interview with Danny Rodriquez, an O’Hare Airport worker who is a leader in O’Hare Airport workers efforts to organize.

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SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff Calls on Governor Rauner to Create Clean Power Plan for Illinois

Following President Donald Trump’s short-sighted withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement…

SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff Calls on Governor Rauner to Create Clean Power Plan for Illinois

CHICAGO – The following statement is from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff:

“Clean air and water are essential in building stronger, healthier communities for all working people across Illinois.  Working families, particularly those in Black and Brown communities, live in areas hardest hit by environmental damage and suffer the brunt of climate change’s effects. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement illustrates the need to push even harder for environmental justice at the state and local levels.

“Two Republican governors – Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont – have committed to fulfilling the tenets of the Paris Agreement despite President Trump’s withdrawal. There is no reason Governor Rauner cannot do the same for Illinois.

“Governor Rauner must put our planet and the people of Illinois before partisanship. Do the right thing for Illinois’ working families and commit to a clean power plan that keeps neighborhoods healthy and helps put our state on the path towards a 100 percent clean-energy future.”

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SEIU Illinois State Council represents more than 150,000 working people, including home care and child care providers, security officers, janitors, as well as public employees, medical professionals, first responders and social service workers. SEIU members are winning better wages, health care, and more secure jobs, while ensuring that workers, not just corporations and CEOs, benefit from today’s economy.

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Este sábado 29 de abril otra marcha busca denunciar las políticas antiambientales de Trump

Climate March Announcement - Univision

Activistas comunitarios alertan que la degradación del medio ambiente significa una grave amenaza para las comunidades de bajos recursos. La marcha proambientalista será en el centro de Chicago y coincidirá con los primeros 100 días del presidente Trump en la Casa Blanca.

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Chicago Residential Division

The Residential Division of SEIU Local 1 in Chicago is made up of janitors, building engineers, door staff and window washers who work in Chicago’s residential properties.

Building Power: 

The real estate crisis is now over for Chicago’s wealthy building owners, which puts us on a great path to winning better wages and securing our benefits—as long as we hit the streets. Here’s how you can help:

  • Text CONTRACT to 787-753 for updates from the campaign!

Learn more and advance your career through the Local 1 Training Center:

ABOMA Info for Janitors:
  • Local 1 Health Fund: Members covered by the Local 1 Health Fund have two options – Plan A or Plan B. Plan A is HMO coverage and Plan B is PPO coverage. The Local 1 insurance will now be administered by Wilson-McShane (630-288-6868)
    • General Questions:(630) 288-6868
    • Claims Questions: (630) 288-6868
    • Pre-Authorization Number: (800) 845-7348
  • Local 1 Pension – ABOMA (Apartments/Condos)
    The Local 1 Pension Fund covers members who work under the ABOMA agreement in Apartments and Condos throughout Chicagoland.  It also covers members at other worksites. Local 1 members must work for five years before they are vested in the pension plan. For more information about the Local 1 Pension Fund, call the following number: (630) 288-6868
ABOMA Info Door staff:
  • Health Fund: ABOMA Door staff will move to Local 1 insurance plan effective 1/1/17. Meetings regarding the changes will take place at the training fund in October, DATES TBD.
  • 401k: ABOMA Door staff that contribute to the 401 k – the 401 k will be administered by Merrill Lynch

Independent Door staff:

  • Local 25 Health Fund: 312-233-8888
  • Doorman Pension – NIPF
    The National Industry Pension Fund (NIPF) covers members working in Residential Apartments and Condos. Local 1 members must work for five years before they are vested in the pension plan. For more information about NIPF, call the following number: 1-800-458-1010

Click here for a list of important numbers including Local 1’s Member Resource Center, Polk St. Medical Center, the Local 1 Credit Union, and more.

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SEIU Local 1 Member Newsletter – July 2016

Check out our 2016 Quarterly Member Newsletter! Newsletter_2016Q2COLOR

The newsletter is available in:

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Subcontracted Airport Workers Picket Outside United Airlines’ Meeting

Subcontracted airport workers are picketing this morning outside United Airlines’ headquarters in Chicago Wednesday, the day of the company’s annual meeting.

Among those at the picket line are subcontracted airport workers, including baggage handlers, security officers, passenger service workers, cabin cleaners and others, from O’Hare and Newark Liberty International Airports.

The workers are demanding that United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz “invest in responsible contractors that provide good jobs and in turn offer United Airlines passengers great service,” according to a news release from SEIU* Local 1, which is involved with Airport Workers United.

“While contracted workers are the front-line employees of United Airlines’ operations at Chicago O’Hare, Newark Liberty, and Los Angeles International Airports, United Airlines allows the subcontractors they work for to continue to pay workers poverty wages with no meaningful benefits,” which, according to the union, “undermines the safety and security of all.”

“Airport workers,” the release adds, “believe that United Airlines’ passengers deserve more and also share the company’s commitment to providing employees with the tools that they need to give customers great service.”

Read the full story over at Progress Illinois. 

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Chicago and New York security officers win $15—and more—through their unions

Another important victory in the fight for $15 and safer cities

By: Marakah Mancini

Security officers at SEIU Local 1 and 32BJ won new union contracts that will bring thousands of officers above $15 and enhance many benefits, including retirement programs, in both cities.

In Chicago, security officers won additional investments in their work and their communities following the deadliest first quarter their city has seen in years.

More than 1,700 working families will benefit from the new downtown contract, which lifts most officers above $15, maintains fully employer-paid health care, and increases pension benefits. Together, the security officers are expected to bring $46 million to their local economies, pumping necessary resources into Chicago’s struggling neighborhoods.

Now downtown officers are supporting 6,800 suburban officers who will bargain a new contract by the end of the year.

After half of 32BJ security officers surveyed in 2016 said they were worried about their personal safety on the job, officers were able to win immediate access to the training program they have developed.

First 1,000 New York officers won a strong agreement to strengthen training, holiday and sick leave provisions. Then 9,000 more officers in the city won 100-percent employer-paid family healthcare for thousands of officers whose families weren’t yet covered, guaranteed paid time off, and their first contributions to a 401(k).

Both New York contracts will raise minimum wages above $15—another important victory in the Fight for $15 and safer cities.

This story is from the SEIU Blog.

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