Today, the grand jury’s decision deepens those wounds and amplifies even more the disproportionate and disparate injustices experienced by communities of color.
“For months, families across our nation have experienced collective grief and outrage over the taking of Michael Brown’s life and the resulting turmoil that has upended the community in Ferguson, Missouri. Today, the grand jury’s decision deepens those wounds and amplifies even more the disproportionate and disparate injustices experienced by communities of color. These injustices reverberate through all communities and take our nation another step away from a fair and just society.
Our disappointment in today’s decision does not extinguish the hope in our hearts for a better America for all our children regardless of where they were born or in which zip code they live.
Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. All lives matter. The dream of America can never be fully realized until justice and safety prevail in every community across our country. The Department of Justice must prioritize the investigation into the murder of Michael Brown.
SEIU members stand with our brothers and sisters in Ferguson and across the nation in expressing our grief and frustration. We join them in calling for something better for all neighborhoods and communities and joining together in peaceful demonstrations at federal courthouses across the country.
More information can be found here (http://nationalactionnetwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/HANDS-UP-JUSTICE-RALLY-FLIER-11-21.pdf). We encourage all involved law enforcement to honor the rules and the rights of people to protest and speak out.
We will not rest in these efforts until America is a more just society where every human being is respected and every community has equal opportunity to thrive.
For Immediate Release: November 24, 2014
Media Contact: Beau Boughamer; firstname.lastname@example.org; 202/765-9143
By Amber Stearns
NUVO | October 31. 2014
Ana Rosas used to clean the offices of Ambrose Property Group as a janitor working for Sunshine Maintenance Services.
When she hired into the position at $8 an hour, Ana knew it wasn’t enough to live on and support her family, so she asked how long until a raise would be considered.
She was told six months.
So, Ana did her job to the best of her ability. She cleaned tables, floors, bathrooms, offices and entire floors. Ana, a fellow co-worker, and her supervisor cleaned four floors in the Ambrose building every night, then walked down the block to clean another building.
After six months on the job and a clean record, Ana approached her supervisor about the raise she thought she was eligible to receive.
“Then he came back to me and said the manager (of Sunshine Management) said ‘this comes from the president.’ He said there is no money and that there are a stack of applications and the door is wide open.”
(Ana spoke with me through translator Monica Morales because she speaks little to no English.)
“Two months later I insisted again because $8 is not enough,” said Ana. “$283 a week is not enough to pay my bills, food, house, help my kids out with their education.”
Ana is the single mother of two; she has a daughter, 19, and a son, 16. Her husband died before her son was born. Her daughter is a student at Ivy Tech and IUPUI studying mechanical engineering. She says it was watching her daughter go to school and work at the same time to pay for it that prompted her to seek out more money from her employer.
“She doesn’t sleep she goes to work early in the morning then to school then back to work,” said Ana. “I know that what she is studying is really really hard and she needs to study and it makes me feel helpless because I can’t help her out.”
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 in Indianapolis got involved with Ana’s situation and has been helping her with case. With their advice, Ana approached Sunshine Management again for a raise in pay and for the right to form a union among the other employees. Both requests were denied and Ana lost her job.
Ana has since talked to Ambrose Property Group to let them know the actions of the company they hired and how their employees were treated. Their response was very positive, immediately asking what they could do to help.
“They (Ambrose) needed to know that the company they hired is paying us really low wages. I clean the president’s desk and I can see how they live,” said Ana, referring to the pictures of family, vacations, and other things that decorated the office. “How nice would that be to dedicate time to your family.”
Ana also filed a formal charge of unfair labor practice against Sunshine Maintenance and her case is under federal investigation. The regional labor board is scheduled to interview Ana as they investigate the Sunshine’s actions. SEIU Local 1 spokesperson Leslie Mendoza Kamstra says they hope Ana will be able to get her job back with a raise.
Ana says SEIU Local 1 has been very supportive in her fight for better wages and benefits and says she would do it again.
“Because we need to fight for our rights,’ said Ana. “It is enough of them stepping all over us. Our work should count.”
She also says that anyone else in the same situation should no be afraid to speak up and fight for what they deserve.
“Don’t give up,” said Ana. “There are unions. There are allies in the community, faith allies in our churches. We are not alone.
By Fran Quigley
Indianapolis Star | November 19. 2014
Judging by online message boards and the pronouncements of some politicians, it is easy for some of us to treat the working poor as an abstraction.
So allow me to introduce Ana Rosas. If the statistic that one in every four private sector workers earns less than $10 per hour seems a little remote, ask Rosas about the challenge of working as a janitor in Downtown Indianapolis. She can tell you how wages of $8 per hour, and take-home pay of less than $300 each week, translates to standing in line at the church food pantry. Ask her about her humiliation when asking for loans from family and friends in order to pay the rent.
Perhaps it is tempting to dismiss the working poor as somewhat lazy. That temptation disappears when Rosas describes the excruciating back and leg pain that is a predictable result of a 54-year-old woman mopping, vacuuming and hauling trash 40 hours each week. Like nearly half of the Indiana private sector workforce, Rosas had no paid sick days in her janitorial job. Every evening, she put aside her pain and limped into work.
Record levels of local and national income inequality may not seem tangible to us. If so, ask Rosas about how she scrubbed the toilets used by lawyers and business executives who take home wages 10 times or greater than hers. During the day, the occupants of those offices arrange for vacation homes and season tickets. At night, Rosas wipes down their desks and worries about eviction notices and filling prescriptions.
Maybe we shake our head in disapproval at teenagers flunking out of school after no one was home to oversee homework. Judgment becomes a little harder to issue when Rosas explains that her husband died when she was pregnant with their second child. Leaving her teenagers home while she worked until 1AM was a necessity, not a choice.
The limited protection of U.S. labor laws can seem like just words on a page. The one in five union activists who get fired for speaking out may come off as mere data points. At least until you talk with Rosas about when she asked for a raise and expressed her desire to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. She was fired days later.
An unfair labor practice charge has been filed and awaits a ruling. But, in the meantime, Rosas is without permanent work, and the company is likely to be safe from any more union talk at the workplace. The worst-case scenario for the company is likely being forced to give Rosas some back pay. As University of Oregon professor Gordon Lafer has said, U.S. labor law’s limited deterrence to employers is akin to making the worst punishment for a burglar the prospect that they may have to return the stolen items.
It is not surprising that Ana Rosas is invisible to so many of us. The lawyers and the business executives whose offices she cleaned work for big-name companies whose names we all would recognize. But they did not directly employ Ana Rosas or her colleagues. The law firms and corporations leave that to a property manager, Ambrose Property Group. Turns out Ambrose delegates that unpleasantness out, too, leaving the janitors to work for a low-profile contractor, Sunshine Maintenance Services. (Ambrose declined to comment for this column, saying the matter is between Sunshine and its employee. Sunshine did not reply to my request for comment.)
So you may not know Ana Rosas. But she knows you. She knows people think $7.25 per hour is just fine for a minimum wage. She knows that people believe employers should be able to crush a union whenever they wish.
But she wonders if you would still hold onto those views if you had to confront her reality. If you had to go to work when you were sick or hurt. If you were fired for speaking out. If you tried raising a family on poverty wages.
Rosas has been composed while explaining her struggles, but finally her voice starts to rise. “Are you able to live on $8 per hour?” she asks. “Do the math and tell me how this is supposed to work.”
Now, tears of frustration begin to flow. They are no abstraction, either.
Quigley is a clinical professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.
Every day after the President of Ambrose Property Group goes home, Ana Rosas would clean his desk on the fourth floor of Circle Tower—until now. Ana’s employer, Sunshine Maintenance, is under investigation by the federal government for retaliating against her when she asked to improve her job and form a union.
Sunshine Maintenance is the janitorial contractor hired by Ambrose to keep Circle Tower clean. For her 40 hours of work, Ana takes home just $283 a week. She worries because she doesn’t have the money she needs to help her daughter pay for college—something Ana has always encouraged her to do.
“Carina has to support herself. She is only 19 and she works at 5:30 every morning before she heads off to classes at IUPUI during the day and at Ivy Tech in the evening,” Ana says. “Sometimes she only sleeps 4 hours a night.”
Ana wants a better future for both of her children and that’s why she is forming a union to improve her wages.
“I want them to have healthy food, to travel and to have the things I haven’t been able to have. Most importantly, I want them to have time for themselves and their families—because I didn’t have that for them,” Ana says.
Family is the most important thing for Ana. And as a widow, she is raising her children by herself. “I tell them that I’m doing all of this for them. I work hard so they can focus on studying and have a better life. But I don’t want to just be economic provider for my kids and work all the time. I want to be their mother too.”
Too many working people like Ana are losing ground because big corporations are holding down wages for their own gain. The impact is clear: crime is on the rise and Indiana is falling behind the rest of the country in terms of health, income and education standards.
Indianapolis janitors are urging corporations to provide jobs that can support a family. We need to make sure that our economy works for everyone who contributes to it—not just the wealthy few.
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.
“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
The newsletter is available in:
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.
View our annual report to see what Local 1 has accomplished in 2013: