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.
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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.
Liz Márquez, tiene 9 años, y dice conocer el dolor que las leyes de inmigración ocasionan a las familias de inmigrantes.
La tarde del sábado Liz se paró frente a la multitud congregada en la Plaza Daley, en el centro de Chicago, y dijo con voz muy firme y en perfecto inglés y español, que estaba cansada de “vivir con miedo”, de temer que un día al regresar de la escuela no encuentre a su padre que enfrenta un proceso de deportación.
“Estoy aquí para exigir que paren las deportaciones y una reforma migratoria”, dijo la niña, “estoy aquí luchando por mi familia y por todos los que están luchando por dignidad y respeto. Ya basta de injusticias, discriminación y racismo”, mencionó la pequeña cuya familia es miembro de la organización PASO en Melrose Park.
“Estoy cansada de que mis papás sean tratados como criminales, ¡mis papás no son criminales!, son gente trabajadora que han sacrificado todo. Mi papá está bajo proceso de deportación porque un notario público le hizo fraude. No es justo vivir con miedo, es mi derecho como ciudadana poder vivir con mis papás y no ser separados por una deportación, como niños no deberíamos ir a la escuela con miedo de que al regresar a casa no encontremos a nuestros padres…”, agregó
La niña fue una de cientos que marcharon este 12 de octubre en Chicago y pidieron un alto a las deportaciones y una ley que les regularice su estatus migratorio y que les proporcione una opción para obtener la ciudadanía.
De acuerdo con los organizadores, marcharon aproximadamente 5,000 personas; según la Policía de Chicago, fueron poco más de 1,000.
Mónica Treviño, portavoz de la Coalición de Illinois pro Derechos de Inmigrantes y Refugiados (ICIRR) mencionó que por lo menos 2,000 de sus miembros marcharon y a ellos se sumaron familias, sindicatos y otras organizaciones.
La familias llegaron tanto de los barrios de Chicago como de los suburbios, no hubo políticos dando discursos, esencialmente fueron testimonios de afectados por las leyes migratorias, como doña Silvia Guerrero, madre, esposa y abuela, quien contó que su esposo y uno de sus hijos enfrentan un proceso de deportación, fueron detenidos tras una investigación a los dueños de la empresa donde trabajaban.
Ella le pidió al congresista Peter Roskam, el cuarto republicano con más alto rango en la Cámara de Representantes, quien representa al sexto distrito de Illinois, y quien no apoya una reforma migratoria, “que se ponga la mano en el corazón y nos apoye. Mis nietos son ciudadanos americanos y no se merecen vivir con este miedo, con esta incertidumbre”, dijo Guerrero.
El grupo La Autoridad de la Sierra animó a la multitud con su música, dijeron que agradecían a Dios la oportunidad de estar en Chicago y poder “apoyar a nuestra raza latina por la reforma”.
También el reverendo Jesse Jackson de Rainbow PUSH Coalition se solidarizó “esta es nuestra tierra, que paren las deportaciones ahora, una legalización ahora, unión familiar ahora”, fue el mensaje del reverendo.
La marcha formó parte de la campaña nacional para intensificar la presión sobre la Cámara de Representantes que no ha llevado a discusión la propuesta de reforma migratoria que beneficiaría a unos 11 millones de inmigrantes, la cual el Senado aprobó en junio.
Thousands of marchers took to the streets of Chicago Saturday in a continued call for immigration reform and an end to deportations.
A conglomeration of labor groups, community organizations and faith leaders organized the march, which stepped off about 1:30 p.m. Saturday from Teamster City, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd. The march, which organizers said numbered between 5,000 and 6,000 people, traveled east on Jackson to Dearborn Street and then north to the Daley Center plaza for a planned rally.
Flanked by police officers as they moved along Jackson, marchers chanted, banged drums and blew horns. Some held signs reading, “stop deportations,” or “tear down the wall.”
“I thought I was a citizen because this is all I know,” said Nestor Rivera, 22, a Chicago resident who said he came to this country when he was only one year old. Rivera said he has tried to become a citizen since high school, but the process has been arduous.
“It gives me hope,” he said of Saturday’s march. “Things like this are getting to the government.”
Next to Rivera, DeKalb resident Olivia Segura, 45, held a sign asking for help keeping her family together in the wake of her daughter’s death while serving in the Illinois National Guard. After her daughter, Spc. Ashley Sietsema, died driving an ambulance in Kuwait in 2007, Segura said her husband fell into a spiral of substance abuse that resulted in arrests for DUI and cocaine possession. While Segura said she is a U.S. citizen, her husband was attempting to gain citizenship before his criminal record left him in jeopardy of deportation.
“The crime doesn’t fit the punishment,” Segura said. “My husband is in limbo. He could be deported at any time.”
Later near the plaza’s famed Picasso sculpture, rally organizers and others took to a small stage and urged lawmakers — and specifically U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam from Illinois — to pass immigration reform and halt deportations.
“We need leaders like Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam to stop hiding and take action,” said Lesly Sandoval, 19, a Harold Washington College student who said most of her family members are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. “All I want is to see my parents get equal treatment and not looked down upon because they aren’t U.S. citizens,” she said. “Both my mom and dad deserve to be here because they work as hard as everyone else and they contribute to this country.”
More events are planned this month to ensure immigration reform remains on the minds of federal officials currently debating debt ceilings and government shutdowns.
“October is very crucial,” said Monica Trevino, spokeswoman for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “We want to continue the pressure to ensure they do pass immigration reform.”
Chants of “Si Se Puede!” could be heard throughout downtown Chicago as thousands marched and rallied for comprehensive immigration reform and an end to deportations Saturday afternoon.
The massive march and demonstration, attended by some 5,000 people, kicked off at Teamster City, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd. At 1:30 p.m., marchers began to travel east on Jackson Boulevard and then north on Dearborn Street until they reached Daley Center plaza for a planned rally. Police blocked off traffic as the marchers made their way downtown. Demonstrators cheered, banged drums, waved American flags and held signs reading, “Keep families together!”
Labor leaders, community members and immigrant rights advocates demanded that House Republican leaders, including U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R, IL-6), bring immigration reform legislation up for a vote.
House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that creates a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants less than two weeks ago, but Republican House leaders have been ignoring it. The bill mirrors the bipartisan immigration reform package the Senate passed in June.
“We believe we have the votes to get it passed [in the House] if a vote were called today, but Republican leadership is standing in the way of that, refusing to call a vote,” said Jenette Sturges, an Aurora resident and votunteer with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “We want them to take a stand. Become a leader, and let hard-working people earn citizenship.”
Saturday’s rally specifically singled out Roskam, Illinois’ top House Republican and the chamber’s chief deputy whip.
“We’re calling on him to take the lead on this, because he has the power to do it, and he has not responded to any of our calls for action,” Sturges said.
One activist carried a giant, full-sized cutout of the congressman, while others toted signs reading “Roskam, remember November” and “Roskam hates immigrants.” Others held up posters in the shape of mastodons reading, “Illinois GOP: Vote for comprehensive immigration reform or face extinction.”
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) attended the Teamster City rally and noted that Roskam’s district is one-third Latino. Roskam will pay a price during the November election if an immigration reform bill is not called for a vote by then, Fioretti stressed.
Alds. Joe Moreno (1st) Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Walter Burnett (27th) also attended the rally.
A number of other labor organizations including Chicago Jobs With Justice, Unite Here and the Chicago Teachers Union, to name a few, were also represented at the event.
“Labor is in the house brothers and sisters, because we have to make sure that once and for all we get real, common sense immigration reform,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “So that all people can move ahead, so that we can recognize the basic human rights that we as trade unionists believe that we must always fight for.”
Later at the Daley Plaza rally, Liz Marquez, 9, delivered some fiery words for members of Congress in front of the sea of people.
“Our families have witnessed injustice, discrimination and racism. Enough is enough,” she said. “I am tired of a broken immigration system that treats my parents like criminals. Our parents are not criminals. They are hard working people who have sacrificed everything.”
Marquez said her father is currently facing deportation, and she’s sick of being afraid that he could be taken away from her family at any moment.
“Living with fear is not the right way to live,” she said. “It is my right as a U.S. citizen to be able to live with my parents without being separated by a deportation.”
Every day, 1,100 people are deported. If deportation rates continue at their current pace, some 2 million people will have been deported by 2014 under the Obama administration.
Juan Lopez with the group P.A.S.O (West Suburban Action Project) said that’s unacceptable, and House Republican leaders need to quit sitting on immigration reform legislation that would provide immediate legal status and an eventual pathway to citizenship.
Sturges said it was moving to see such an impressive turnout Saturday.
“Whats really cool about it, it’s not a movement of any one sort of person,” she told Progress Illinois. “It’s immigrants and non-immigrants. It’s their families and their friends. It’s Latinos and Asians … It’s a really great atmosphere. It’s really empowering.”
LAKEVIEW — Some residents of a lakeside high-rise are protesting the loss of long-time door staffers as the building’s management money seeks to cut costs by switching to private security.
A petition circulating atHawthorne House, 3450 N. Lake Shore Drive, has 230 tenant signatures asking that J.L. Woode keep six employees instead of switching to private security company Guardian Security Services, said Ivan Moreno, spokesman for SEIU Local 1, the staff’s union.
Some residents of the 37-floor, 455-unit building have bemoaned the “mean-spirited” nature of laying off long-time employees, and saying they’ll no longer have trusted employees who can leave packages in their homes, they said.
“There’s no heart,” said Gloria Wendroff, who lives in the building with her daughter. “This doesn’t make me, as a resident, feel important either.”
At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the union, staff and some residents will be rallying outside the high-rise for the third time in three weeks in hopes of convincing J.L. Woode to change its mind, Moreno said.
Tenants and staff learned about the switch through the union and word of mouth in September, they said. The staff’s last day is Oct. 14.
The new workers will not be leaving packages in homes until further evaluation, according to an email to tenants.
Laying off long-time employees shows disrespect to the staff and to the tenants, several residents said. Current staff members have worked at the building for 10 years on average, Moreno said, and one doorman has worked there for 29 years.
“We are disturbed that the company, that manages our place of residence, is heartless enough to consider letting go a wonderful and loyal staff to save a few dollars,” resident Jonathan Groda wrote in an email to J.L. Woode.
A manager at J.L. Woode said the company has no comment. Guardian Security Services did not return a request for comment.
Employees were told they could reapply through Guardian, but they do not expect to be able to return, Moreno said.
If they are rehired, the wages and benefits may be lower, the union said. Door staffers currently earn $15.15 per hour with family health insurance, vacation time and sick days — whereas private security wages in Chicago range from minimum wage to $11 an hour and benefits may not be guaranteed, Moreno said.
Residents who protested the layoffs said they feared the company would do nothing despite their opposition. At a rally outside the building last week, the landscaping sprinklers went on, Moreno said, and J.L. Woode killed a deal to keep paying for health insurance for three months after employees spoke up.
“We’re continuing to show that residents are completely against” the layoffs, Moreno said. “This is something the community cares about.”
Labor leaders in Chicago held a press conference Thursday morning announcing plans to hold a massive march and rally to call for “an immediate end to deportations and immigration reform legislation which will protect workers’ rights and provide for legalization for all workers.”
Leaders with Chicago Federation of Labor, Illinois AFL-CIO, SEIU* Local 1, Local 881 UFCW, National Nurses United, Chicago Workers Collaborative and others plan to hold a ‘March for Dignity, Respect and Justice for Immigrants’ on Saturday, October 12 to demand that lawmakers pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that creates a path to citizenship.
“This march through the streets of Chicago will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to passing real immigration reform that protects all working people,” said Jorge Ramirez, Chicago Federation of Labor. “Thousands of marchers will send the message directly to Congress that we will not waver in our support for dignity, respect and justice for the immigrant workers in our communities.”
The coalition is urging Chicagoans and those throughout the area to take part in the action, which will kick off at Teamster City at 1645 W. Jackson at 12 p.m. on October 12. The march is scheduled to begin 2 p.m. and will travel through Jackson St. to Federal Plaza at Jackson and Dearborn Sts., where the rally will take place at 3 p.m.
La marcha está programada a concluir en la Plaza Federal. Los organizadores buscan presionar al Congreso a que apruebe una iniciativa de reforma migratoria, una vez que el gobierno federal reinicie sus labores tras el cierre.
La Marcha por Dignidad, Respeto y Justicia es parte de acciones nacionales de organizaciones comunitarias y sindicatos en favor de una reforma al sistema de inmigración y para que el presidente Barack Obama imponga una moratoria a las deportaciones.
La marcha dará inicio en Teamster City, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd., a las 12 p.m. hacia la Plaza Federal donde se llevará a cabo una manifestación a las 3:00 pm.