At the September 6, 2014, membership meeting, a new SEIU Local 1 Executive Board was elected and sworn in. The slate of nominees was uncontested and the new board members were voted in by acclamation at every SEIU Local 1 membership meeting across our six states. We look forward to the new Executive Board’s leadership. You can read the list of the current board officers and members.
We also celebrate the years of service that the outgoing board members dedicated to their SEIU Local 1 brothers and sisters. Be sure to thank these leaders for all that they have done for working families in the Midwest.
Dave Gathman | firstname.lastname@example.org | Oct. 9 7:27 p.m.
ELGIN — Even as Elgin Community College apparently has settled the issue of possibly outsourcing its custodial duties, custodians who already are working for an outside company in District U46 K-12 schools are involved in a heated labor negotiation. They say they want benefits and pay more equal to that enjoyed by custodian/maintenance people working alongside them who are employed directly by District U46.
District U46 now has two sets of custodian/maintenance people. One group, who work mainly in the daytime, work 40 hours a week. They handle more challenging maintenance duties, work as U46 employees, get a healthy package of benefits and are represented by a union named the Educational Support Service Organization (ESSO). These people have a contract through 2016.
But since 2006 the 180 custodians who clean up all U46 schools at night or work as additional cleaning staff in the daytime at high schools and middle schools, are employed by an outside company named GCA Service Group, based in Knoxville, Tenn. The school district contracted with GCA to provide those services. GCA in turn hires the workers, who are represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
SEIU organizer Carolina Villalobos said the labor contract between that second tier of custodians and GCA expired June 30. As representatives of the union and GCA continue to negotiate, the current contract conditions were extended, but Villalobos said that extension also will expire Oct. 31.
The pay and benefits between the two groups contrast drastically. According to U46’s contract with the ESSO workers, they get 14 paid holidays per year, including the Good Friday “Spring Holiday” and the day after Thanksgiving. They get 10 days of paid vacation after one year on the job, growing to 20 days of vacation after 15 years of service. They get up to 10 days per year of sick leave, which can accrue from year to year without limit.
They also get health insurance, for which they must pay 10 percent of the taxpayers’ cost. They get dental insurance and $30,000 worth of life insurance. And the school district and they share the cost of accumulating pension benefits through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
And their pay ranges from about $14 per hour, for a middle-school night custodian for a relief custodian, to more than $35 per hour for a maintenance foreman.
The GCA custodians, on the other hand, get no benefits at all and make barely more than the minimum wage, according to Kimball Middle School custodian Hugo Barrientos.
Barrientos took his group’s case to the U46 Board of Education this week, asking board members to do whatever they can to influence GCA in the labor talks.
“We are employees but we are also parents,” Barrientos said during the board meeting’s public-comment time. “We work hard to ensure a clean and healthy environment for students, teachers and staff. But we are struggling to make ends meet.”
For example, Barrientos said that because the GCA workers get no sick pay, they often come to school sick, which could spread germs to the children in their schools.
He said later that after working in U46 schools for 12 years — the last eight as a GCA employee — he makes $10.80 an hour for a 35-hour work week. Some of his coworkers make as little as $9, he said.
Barrientos said the GCA people who work in the daytime, as he does, do many of the same thing as their higher-paid, benefits-endowed counterparts who are employed directly by the school district. Besides cleaning the cafeteria after meals, he said, he changes light bulbs and ballasts, shovels snow, and helps students open uncooperative lockers.
GCA officials could not be reached for comment.
“I don’t know what we could do” about the situation, U46 CEO Tony Sanders said after the meeting. He said he believes GCA was chosen by the school district as the lowest-cost responsible vendor to provide such services, and the way they compensate their employees must at least meet the minimum requirements of the state prevailing wage law.
When Elgin Community College recently went looking for an outside company to provide consulting services for its all-in-house custodial work, GCA was one of five companies that submitted a bid. But ECC leaders picked another firm because its fee was much lower and that firm specialized in consulting work.
“We need a strong economy that works for all—not just the wealthy few. Chicago should be the next big city to pay workers the wages they need to provide a decent life for themselves and a better one for their children.” Tom Balanoff, SEIU Local 1 President
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More than 700 SEIU Local 1 members and supporters shared what was important to them and how our union can improve in our 2014 Member and Supporter Survey.
The most important issues to participants were creating good jobs that can support a family and reducing income inequality in our country. The aspects of their jobs they most want to improve are their wages, your retirement benefits and your healthcare.
Local 1 members and supporters are fighting to achieve all of these goals.
Participants – mostly members – described the SEIU Local 1 mission in their own words, but many used the same ones. Words like lead, fight, help, strengthen, organize, advocate and build. SEIU Local 1 members and supporters do all of those things every day without tiring.
As a union and as a country, we face a lot of challenges. Working together is the only way to win better wages and benefits and start addressing income inequality in our country. SEIU Local 1 understands that we are all striving for the same goal and together we can realize it.
Check out the survey results—and thank you for staying connected.
DePaul’s High School Union Summer School will be held July 7-11, 2014. The class is tuition free and each student who attends all five days of the summer school will receive a $100 stipend from the Labor Center. Lunch will be provided for students each day of the program.
To be eligible, students must have completed their freshman, sophomore, junior or senior years of high school. The class is limited to 24 students and will be held at DePaul, 14 E. Jackson, 14th floor, from 9:30-2:30 each day.
Topics include why unions today, collective bargaining role play, tour of Pullman, a role play in which students will evaluate the actions of the participants of the Pullman strike, and a discussion on the future of work.
If you have further questions, contact Bob Breving at 312-362-6802, or email@example.com. Bob can provide an electronic copy of the short application and waiver that must be filled out for each participating student.
View our annual report to see what Local 1 has accomplished in 2013:
Fast food workers began organizing a little under one year ago, kicking off a national movement with strikes in New York City and Chicago in April of 2013. Other cities quickly followed suit, with fast food and retail workers walking off the job in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit, and more, demanding a higher minimum wage and the right to organize a union. Less than a year later, on December 5, 2013, the largest fast food strike in history occurred. Workers in over 100 cities walked off their jobs, picketed their employers, and called for a $15 minimum wage.
“It’s okay! We got your back!” Local 1 members from Chicago called out to workers at the McDonald’s at Chicago & Damen. The call has become a rallying cry for the movement, which seeks to empower long-ignored fast food workers. Local 1 Members stood side-by-side with the striking McDonald’s workers, many of who are paid just $8.25 after years of dedicated service.
“I am involved with the fast food campaign to better the economy for everyone,” says St. Louis member Wesley Reed. “[To fix the economy] we have to start from the bottom, not from the top.”
Members from Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee all took part in the nationwide day of action, standing in solidarity with fast food workers across the nation. History was made last week, and it came less than a week after the massive Black Friday protests staged at Wal-Mart locations throughout the country. These monumental actions have brought income inequality to the forefront of the national conversation—an important step in repairing our damaged economy.
Stay informed on what is happening across your local.
“ABM is a national, multi-million dollar corporation. But SEIU is national too. Every SEIU city across the country is help to win this fight, not just for Columbus but for all hardworking people everywhere! “
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Nearly 100 SEIU* Local 1 security officers and their supporters staged a rally and flash mob at the Thompson Center Wednesday to bring attention to their campaign for better wages and affordable health care. Presently, full time security officers can pay up to $1,543 a month for health insurance coverage for a family of four. In some cases, that could be more than 80 percent of an officer’s monthly income.
“We’re just asking for fair wages, health benefits and [that they] just treat us with integrity and respect,” said Kenyatta Sinclair, a security officer who has been on the job for five years. Sinclair, who makes $13.60 an hour, does not currently have health benefits.
“I would have to buy my own plan, and I don’t make enough to buy one,” Sinclair explained.
The workers rallying at the Thompson Center have been in negotiations with some of the largest security contractors in the nation, including Securitas and Allied Barton, said Ivan Moreno, a communications specialist for SEIU Local 1. Presently, representatives from SEIU’s bargaining committee are still trying to negotiate contract language before they move to the next phase of negotiations, which would be focused on a wage increase and health benefits.
Earlier this year, the union secured a three-year contract with the Building Owners and Manager’s Association, which included annual raises and kept family health insurance plans intact. During the negotiations, workers and their supporters staged multiple rallies and received support from the community and legislators, including Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly.
Wednesday’s demonstrators dressed in Halloween-themed costumes and broke into dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as a means to bring more attention to their campaign for a fair contract.
“This is more than just a contract. This is a revolution of a social movement that is happening,” said Erica Kimble, vice president and Security Division director.
“To get something different, we have to do something different. We have to come out, be unified and stand in solidarity with one another to show these contractors we mean business this year.”
After six bargaining sessions, the negotiations have been moving slowly, according to Kimble.
Here’s a look at the protest, flash mob dance and more from Kimble:
Miguel Flores, a BOMA security officer of nine years, said actions like Wednesday’s flash mob helps workers feel more unified in their fight for better wages.
“It helps show the security officers that we’re not alone, that we have the support of Local 1 to come help fight for better wages and benefits.”
The demonstrators said security officers who protect public safety deserve better than poverty wages.
“No longer will security officers go to work and protect and serve the public and not get the incentive of a decent rate of pay and health insurance,” said Kimble.
SEIU organizers say the union will be back at the bargaining table on November 7.
* The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.