Missouri

Good businesses, even universities, invest in their employees

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Good businesses, even universities, invest in their employees

If higher education truly wishes to help solve the world’s complex problems, it is essential that all voices get a seat at the table, including those of graduate student workers. At Washington University, we need to do more to ensure graduate student workers don’t have to choose between academic success and personal well-being.

We are “privileged to be here,” we graduate student workers are so often told, and we shouldn’t question issues of compensation if we are truly passionate about the work we do. But as long as Washington University insists that we are students only, graduate student workers receive none of the protections afforded to employees under the law, even while we are compelled to remain in this tenuous position in order to complete our degrees.

While Washington U. is ostensibly committed to its role as a beacon of higher learning in the St. Louis community, it is in fact run as a business — and an incredibly lucrative one, at that. But good businesses invest in their employees. By promoting the well-being of the whole employee, Washington U. stands to benefit from higher graduation rates, better job placement, better academic and teaching work, and a healthier spirit of collaboration between students and their faculty advisers.

I believe a graduate student worker union will offer those protections where the administration has failed to do so, resulting in better conditions for workers and increased productivity across the university.

Meredith Kelling  •  Maplewood

Meredith Kelling is an outstanding, graduate student activist with SEIU Local 1. Her Letter to the Editor appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on August 28th, 2017.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch Opinion: St. Louis employers can still save the raise

This piece was originally posted on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Bruce Franks Jr.

Gov. Eric Greitens and state Republican legislators have decided to lower St. Louis’ newly implemented minimum wage. That means more than 31,000 hardworking people could lose as much as $400 when the hourly minimum wage drops from $10 back to $7.70 at the end of August. It’s the second time in U.S. history that lawmakers have lowered the minimum wage for working people.

It’s the latest, cruelest act by Jefferson City Republicans in their long war against workers winning higher pay. In 2015, St. Louis passed an ordinance to gradually raise the $7.70 hourly minimum wage — which had only increased 40 cents in the last seven years. Instead of applauding a raise that would improve people’s lives, business lobbyists held up the law with lawsuits. And after workers finally won their day in court and got their $10 per hour in May, Republican legislators rammed through HB 1194, which nullified the increase. Last month, Gov. Greitens made the heartless decision to allow the bill to become law.

Republican politicians in Jefferson City may be dead-set on moving us back, but we as a community still have the power to come together and chart the way forward. That’s why I’m urging employers in our city to “Save the Raise.”

Despite obstruction from Jefferson City, all St. Louis employers still have the power to pay the fair wage of $10 per hour after Aug. 28. And there’s a sound economic reason to do so.

Raising the wage means workers paying the bills on time, putting food on the table and having a little extra money to spend. Studies have shown the more money working people have in their paychecks, the more they can spend locally, making our economy stronger for everyone.

Every year, Missouri taxpayers shell out $2.4 billion to cover the cost of public assistance for low-wage workers. Without a raise for minimum wage workers, taxpayers will continue to be left on the hook while big companies in our area get a free pass.

Without a raise, St. Louis’ rising income inequality will continue to grow — as will the instability it causes. Over the past decade in St. Louis, wages for white-collar workers like engineers and lawyers have risen, while real wages for blue-collar workers and service workers have shrunk by 7.1 percent and 8 percent, respectively. It’s getting harder and harder to get ahead in our city if you’re already on the margins.

Crime, an issue that urgently needs to be addressed in St. Louis, is closely connected to income inequality.

Shortly after deciding to take away workers’ raises, Gov. Greitens announced a plan to fight crime that would increase police presence on our highways and rack up taxpayer bills, but ignore the root causes of crime in St. Louis communities: crushing poverty, deep inequality and a lack of opportunity.

Workers protested his event, rightfully asking the governor: How can you be serious about fighting crime in St. Louis when you want to rip money out of our pockets and food out of our children’s mouths?

As influential members of the St. Louis community, local employers have the power to help tackle crime by saving the raise for their employees. Creating good jobs is a real solution to making our communities strong and safe, by providing opportunities to the families getting left behind by the governor and Jefferson City politicians.

Missouri Republicans, although supposedly the champions of small government, have overreached and tried to take away the voices of St. Louis voters. By pledging to “Save the Raise,” employers in St. Louis should send a message to Jefferson City that a $10 per hour wage is good for their business, good for Missouri’s working families and good for the city’s economy and safety.

Let the obstructers in Jefferson City keep obstructing, because employers can and should take matters into their own hands and move the city forward.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. is a Democrat from St. Louis.

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SEIU Local 1 Members, Allies Kick Off Fight to Raise Missouri’s Minimum Wage

SEIU Local 1 Members, Allies Kick Off Fight to Raise Missouri’s Minimum Wage

SEIU Local 1 members, the Kansas City AFL-CIO, Stand Up Kansas City and Missouri Jobs With Justice came together and kicked off the Raise Up Missouri campaign to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12! The campaign includes a petition drive to gather 100,000 signatures to put the $12 wage on the November 2018 ballot. After Governor Eric Grietens lowered St. Louis’ minimum wage for 30,000 Missouri working families and prevented Kansas City from raising the wage, working people are taking the power from the politicians and put it back in the hands of the people.

If the governor won’t do the right thing and fight for Missouri families, we will have to ourselves. Working families agree: The cost of living continues to go up while wages haven’t kept pace. We need to make it easier for Missouri families to pay their bills and put food on the table, not harder. Working families shouldn’t have to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. That is why we’re fighting for a $12 statewide minimum wage in Missouri!

Raising the minimum wage to $12 would give more than half a million working Missourians a raise and would positively affect nearly one million working people, making our economy stronger for everyone. Together can win higher wages and a brighter future for EVERYONE in Missouri!

Learn more about how to get involved at Raise Up Missouri! 

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St. Louis Lambert International Airport Janitors Vote to Join SEIU Local 1 for a Better Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 7, 2017
CONTACT: Nick Desideri (630) 779-5510 desiderin@seiu1.org
Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich (708) 655-9681 miltkoi@seiu1.org

St. Louis Lambert International Airport Janitors Vote to Join SEIU Local 1 for a Better Future

Working people come together to make Lambert an economic engine for all of St. Louis

ST. LOUIS– Janitors at St. Louis Lambert International Airport voted overwhelmingly to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 to raise standards at our city’s airport and ensure travelers enjoy the best experience possible. SEIU Local 1 represents 50,000 working people across the Midwest including more than 6,000 in the St. Louis region.

“Our airport should be an economic engine for our entire city, not just the airlines. That means fighting to raise standards at Lambert and making sure airport jobs are good jobs,” said St. Louis Lambert International Airport Janitor Lasean Smith. “Lambert is the first place many people see when they visit St. Louis, and by coming together on the job, we can make that experience for travelers even better.”

The janitors, who are employed by Regency Enterprise Services, will hit the bargaining table in the fall to kick off negotiations for a contract that guarantees annual raises and a voice on the job.

The decision to join SEIU Local 1 comes as Missouri’s working families face unprecedented attacks from state politicians. Earlier this year, Governor Eric Greitens signed Right-to-Work legislation in an attempt to silence working people on the job. This summer, the governor and Republican legislators cut the St. Louis minimum wage, slashing pay for more than 30,000 working families by up to 23 percent. But even in the face of adversity, working people continue to unite on the job for higher wages, affordable benefits, and a better future.

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St. Charles Community College adjunct faculty approve contract


St. Charles Community College’s part-time faculty members have ratified their first contract, which was approved by the college’s board on Monday.

The four-year contract will increase wages and stabilize scheduling for the more than 250 part-time faculty members, who voted in March 2016 to unionize and join the Service Employees International Union Local 1.

“This ratification is a really big moment for SCC adjuncts in gaining respect and recognition on campus,” Lisa Decarli, part-time faculty member in sociology, said in a statement. “Through this contract, not only will we get pay raises, but we’ll also have increased job security, a formal grievance process, and a respected and powerful voice on campus.”

Congratulations to our Local 1 brothers and sisters at SCC on ratifying their first contract! Be sure to read the full story over at the St. Louis Business Journal.

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St. Charles Community College and Part-Time Faculty Teams Successfully Ratify Initial Contract

ST. LOUIS – St. Charles Community College part-time faculty members overwhelmingly ratified their first contract, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees on July 17, 2017.

The four-year agreement, expiring in 2021, will increase wages; stabilize scheduling for the part-time faculty members; allow part-time faculty equal academic freedom with full-time faculty; and improve the lives of the faculty, and more importantly, the students at St. Charles Community College.

“This ratification is a really big moment for SCC adjuncts in gaining respect and recognition on campus,” said Lisa Decarli, part-time faculty member in sociology. “Through this contract, not only will we get pay raises, but we’ll also have increased job security, a formal grievance process, and a respected and powerful voice on campus. I’m so thrilled to be part of this national movement to make higher education fairer.”

The agreement demonstrates the vital role part-time faculty play in the world-class, innovative learning environment that the college provides. St. Charles Community College is committed to expanding access to higher education and professional and career development for students, businesses and communities served.

“Part-time faculty are an important part of the SCC community,” said Barbara Kavalier, Ph.D., SCC president. “We are pleased that continued collaboration between the team has resulted in an agreement that demonstrates their value and improves the student experience.”

The more than 250 St. Charles Community College part-time faculty members voted to join Service Employees International Union Local 1 on March 3, 2016.

 

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Service Employees International Union Local 1 unites 50,000 workers throughout the Midwest including janitors, security officers, higher education faculty, food service workers, and others. Local 1 is committed to improving the lives of its members and all working people by winning real economic justice and standing at the forefront of the fight for immigrant, racial, and environmental justice.

St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.

 

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Republican Lawmakers Take A Raise Away From St. Louis Workers

Two months ago, Cynthia Sanders got a raise at her janitorial job, from $8.30 to $10 per hour, after St. Louis passed a law raising its minimum wage. The extra money has helped the 51-year-old cover groceries and utilities as she raises three grandchildren.

But in just a few weeks, Sanders’ pay rate could drop back down again, thanks to a new law Republicans in the Missouri legislature passed invalidating St. Louis’ minimum wage.

“It was life-changing to get this, and it’s going to be life-changing to have it taken away,” said Sanders, who cleans four kitchenettes and eight bathrooms per shift at a Wells Fargo building downtown. “You’ve got children looking at you to be a provider. How do I tell them we’ve got to eat noodles again this week?”

Like other low-wage workers in Missouri and beyond, Sanders finds herself caught in a political and legal battle between local Democrats and state Republicans. As blue cities become incubators for progressive policy, their red state legislatures are trying to thwart them through “preemption laws” that forbid cities and counties from implementing their own measures related to the minimum wage, paid sick days, plastic bag taxes and other hot-button issues.

So far, Republican state legislators are winning the fight. In Missouri, for example, the GOP controls both chambers of the statehouse as well as the governor’s mansion.

Under the law Republicans passed in response to St. Louis’ new ordinance, no locality could have a minimum wage higher than the state level of $7.70 per hour. And St. Louis is not the only city immediately affected. A referendum to gradually raise the minimum wage in Kansas City to $15 was slated to go on the ballot in August.

Gov. Eric Greitens (R) said he does not intend to veto the bill. So under the rules of the Missouri Constitution it will eventually go into effect automatically, reverting the St. Louis minimum wage to $7.70 on Aug. 28. It would also preempt the minimum wage under consideration in Kansas City.

As Missouri Governor Eric Greitens lowers the minimum wage for over 35,000 working families in St. Louis, SEIU Local 1 members refuse to go down without a fight! Read the full HuffPost story, featuring Cynthia Sanders, a Local 1 janitor!

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SEIU Local 1 Janitor Sierra Parker Slams Governor Greitens’ Decision to Cave to Rich Special Interests on HB 1194

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 30, 2017
CONTACT:
Nick Desideri (630) 779-5510 desiderin@seiu1.org

SEIU Local 1 Janitor Sierra Parker Slams Governor Greitens’ Decision to Cave to Rich Special Interests on HB 1194

ST. LOUIS– The following statement is from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 janitor Sierra Parker, who saw her wage increase to $10 under St. Louis’ minimum wage hike.  Just now, Governor Eric Greitens announced he will not veto HB 1194, meaning he will slash St. Louis’ minimum wage from the current $10 back down to $7.70, taking money out of the pockets of tens of thousands of working people:

“Governor Greitens’ announcement today shows his decision was never about Missouri’s working families. It was always about lowering wages and making his rich donors happy.

“The $10 minimum wage has already changed my life for the better. Now, Governor Greitens intends to take money out of the pockets of more than 35,000 St. Louis working families. For me and so many others, that means going back to living paycheck to paycheck.

“He thinks he can sneak his decision by us over the holiday, but this doesn’t change anything. Working people will keep up the fight to hold him accountable.”

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SEIU Local 1 represents more than 8,000 janitors, higher education faculty, public sector workers, school custodians and industrial workers across Missouri. Together, SEIU Local 1 members fight for an economy that works for all working families, not just the wealthy and well-connected. 

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Fighting for a Better St. Louis

The following op-ed by SEIU Local 1 janitor Cynthia Sanders appeared in the June 20 edition of the St.  Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Imagine receiving a raise that would change your life. Now imagine that extra money being torn away from you just a few months later.

“About 35,000 working people across St. Louis face that prospect after finally receiving a little relief, and I am one of them. I’ve worked as a janitor for nine years, helping to support my grandchildren, and I know what it’s like trying to raise a family while the cost of living keeps going up. At $8.30 an hour, scraping by was tough. But in May, the minimum wage in St. Louis rose to $10, and my life changed immediately. I can pay the bills and have a bit to spare for my granddaughters, for their back-to-school supplies, for our groceries. The higher wage, which are supposed to rise again to $11 in 2018, helps me and so many other working families afford the everyday necessities that others may take for granted.

“Now, families can spend money on things we need while putting money back into our communities. Businesses in our neighborhoods will make more money and grow. We know when wages rise for one group of people, they rise for everyone. This change has the power to transform St. Louis for the better, especially in the neighborhoods left behind where change is most needed.

“Poverty isn’t a state of mind. It’s a trap far too many St. Louis families, nearly one in four, find themselves stuck in, and a higher minimum wage helps to give us the tools to climb out. It will help St. Louis residents from all backgrounds. Across the country, cities that have raised the minimum wage have seen job growth go up and wages rise for more than just for minimum-wage workers.

“But Republicans in Jefferson City passed a bill, HB 1194, that would reverse the progress we’ve made. If Gov. Eric Greitens signs the bill like his rich dark-money donors want him to, the St. Louis minimum wage would drop from $10 back down to $7.70 on Aug. 28. That means a summer of hope followed by a massive pay cut for 35,000 people.

“It means taking home $1,800 less every year for thousands of working people across our city. The governor and other Jefferson City politicians would take money out of my family’s pocket to satisfy the super-rich donors contributing to their political campaigns and PACs.

“I pick up my granddaughters from school after work every day, and on our way home we discuss all the normal stuff — what they learned in class, and what they want to be when they grow up. With a little extra money in my pocket I can support their dreams. For the first time in so long, I’ve felt more hope for what the future could bring for my family.

“But that is hope that would be dashed if the minimum wage is slashed. How can we save for college when my entire check gets eaten up by rent, bills and gas? How can we work and save for a better future when we can’t even afford the present? How can we tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when we don’t even have the shoe leather?

“Gov. Greitens and other politicians who are out of touch want to take away my peace of mind and a brighter future for my family and do the same to tens of thousands of others. Working people in our cities should be able to decide what is best for our own future. We need a voice in deciding a minimum wage that reflects our needs and addresses the cost of living in our communities. I know what’s best for my family and my neighborhood. My neighbors know what’s best for theirs. Politicians all the way out in Jefferson City do not.

“Don’t take away the tools we need to change our lives, Gov. Greitens. Don’t take money out of our paychecks — my family and so many others in St. Louis are already on the brink. Making HB 1194 the law and lowering the minimum wage would be unimaginably cruel.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEIU Local 1 Janitors, Senator Jamilah Nasheed, and Allies Urge Governor Greitens: Clean Up Your Act, Ditch Dark Money, and Protect the $10 Minimum Wage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 15, 2017
CONTACT: Nick Desideri desiderin@seiu1.org 630-779-5510
Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich miltkoi@seiu1.org 708-655-9681

Amidst bipartisan calls for an investigation into Governor Greitens’ dark money network…

SEIU Local 1 Janitors, Senator Jamilah Nasheed, and Allies Urge Governor Greitens: Clean Up Your Act, Ditch Dark Money, and Protect the $10 Minimum Wage

Signing HB 1194 would rip $75.6 million from the paychecks of 42,000 St. Louis working people annually

ST. LOUIS– On Thursday, June 15, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 janitors, fast food workers and faith and community allies rallied outside City Hall to urge Governor Eric Greitens to buck the wishes of his dark money donors, protect St. Louis’ $10 minimum wage, and honor the voices of city voters. The governor, who has repeatedly refused to release information on the big-money special interests behind his campaign, has HB 1194 on his desk. If he does not veto the bill, Governor Greitens would cave to his donors, lower the city’s minimum wage from $10 to $7.70, and take an estimated $75.6 million out of the pockets of more than 42,000 St. Louis working families annually.

“When the St. Louis minimum wage went up, my life changed. Now I can pay the bills on time,” said SEIU Local 1 janitor Sierra Parker. “Governor Greitens needs to stand with the working families instead of his dark money donors. He doesn’t know what it’s like to walk in our shoes. Don’t take money out of our pockets.”

“HB 1194 is simply a bad bill,” said state Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis). “It is set to take money out of the pockets of working people. When a community wants to show initiative and lead on issues – like economic development and workers’ rights – the state legislature should get out of the way. The people of St. Louis have spoken; the state legislature should respect that. At the end of the day, this is a St. Louis issue decided by the people of St. Louis for the city of St. Louis.”

“If the Governor does not veto the pre-emption bill, on August 28 I will have to go back to deciding which bills are going to get paid, and which ones are not,” said Show Me $15 fast food worker Bettie Douglas.  “No one should have to decide whether or not they are going to have their electricity cut off or not to have food on their table. Today, on the 27th anniversary of Justice for Janitors Day, fast food workers proudly stand with janitors in St. Louis and across the country.  We will stand together and we will fight back.”

Outside City Hall, Local 1 janitors, armed with brooms, buckets, and mops, “cleaned up” the mess left behind by low wages including crime, poverty, and struggling neighborhoods and took out the trash on politicians like Governor Greitens who stand with secretive billionaire donors instead of working people.  The action took place on the 27th anniversary of Justice for Janitors Day, on which hundreds of peacefully protesting janitors were arrested. St. Louis janitors honored that memory by fighting to protect St. Louis’ $10 minimum wage.

States and cities across the United States raise the minimum wage, and while janitors are moving the Midwest forward, politicians like Governor Greitens are doing their best to hold them back. On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of Missouri state senators called for an investigation into A New Missouri, a political action committee (PAC) linked to the governor, which is not required to release a list of donors. Local 1 janitors and allies called on Governor Greitens to listen to the voices of St. Louis voters instead of his secretive big-money donors and protect St. Louis’ $10 minimum wage.

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SEIU Local 1 represents more than 8,000 janitors, higher education faculty, public sector workers, school custodians and industrial workers across Missouri. Together, SEIU Local 1 members fight for an economy that works for all working families, not just the wealthy and well-connected. 

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