Living with uncertainty, graduate workers kick off series of actions
ST. LOUIS – With only 23 days until graduation, Washington University graduate workers, students, faculty and community allies rallied at the University’s 2018 Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner on Wednesday, April 25. The rally, which is part of a series of planned events leading up to graduation, raised awareness of issues facing the entire Washington University community — and specifically graduate workers, who are students at the University.
While the administration reached out to graduate workers just before the rally to announce guaranteed funding for summer work, nothing is guaranteed and graduate workers request to sit down with administration to discuss specific implementation.
“I am joining together with my colleagues to join in the fight for better funding because of the outsized impact that our inconsistent pay has on international graduate students like myself,” said Augusto Medeiros, PhD Candidate, Physics. “As international students, we are completely reliant on the university to support us because our F1 visas do not permit us to work outside the university. Because of this, international students face the possibility of being forced to return home, pause our research, and face undue hardship simply because our nationality.”
With summer looming, graduate workers are not yet guaranteed they will be paid for work done during those months. Graduate workers cannot afford to go another summer living without pay while still being expected to work and produce research for the university.
“WashU refuses to guarantee pay over the summer even though our research doesn’t stop in June and July; when they do come through with payment, it’s not enough to live on,” said JB Duck-Mayr, a graduate worker in the Political Science department. “That means throughout the year I have to work extra hourly gigs to make sure I can support my family, which takes away time from my research, my students, and my children. A university with $12 Billion in assets should be able to guarantee a living wage to its workers twelve months of the year. WashU administrators have refused to meet with us about these issues, so that’s why I’m protesting with WUGWU to make our voices heard by the university administration.”
This uncertain future is why graduate workers and their supporters are standing up to build power on campus and resistance through events over the next several weeks, including this rally.
“I am taking action to guarantee summer funding and dignified funding year round for grad workers because it is wrong that I make less than $900 a month and receive no pay during the summer at a $12 billion university,” said Sarah Crosley, a teaching assistant in Classics. “I have made more money working as a kindergarten teacher reading books to toddlers in the summer than I do teaching undergrads who pay $50,000 a year to attend WashU.”
Graduate workers, along with their supporters in SEIU Local 1 and the wider community, will continue to fight for power at work and on campus and look forward to making meaningful improvements at Washington University. SEIU Local 1 has been working with graduate workers, college and university professors throughout the Midwest to give them a voice on the job; address the low compensation for their work; and to ensure greater benefits and job security.
On April 28, Local 1 city building custodians in Chicago ratified a strong new contract that guarantees good annual raises, better benefits and a stronger retirement. Together, we rise for the good union jobs our communities need to thrive!
Check out photos from the ratification:
CPS Agrees to Hire More Custodians and Reevaluate Conditions Quarterly, Hold Contractors Accountable
CHICAGO – More than 1,700 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) custodians reached a historic agreement Thursday with CPS. For the first time in history, CPS custodians have a say in their working conditions and school cleanliness. Historically, CPS adopts the standards set forth by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). This year, additional demands of higher staffing were made with CPS cleaning contractors.
After cleaning contractors refused to guarantee custodians the resources to keep schools clean and healthy for students and teachers causing bargaining to break down, CPS stepped in to have productive conversations around the contract, ultimately agreeing to hire more custodians and to hold cleaning contractors accountable.
“Over the last few years, CPS cleaning contractors like Aramark have continued to cut corners to increase their bottom line, while custodians have been working harder and harder with less,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “We appreciate the intervention of CPS and look forward to a strong new partnership in, which schools are clean and healthy places for students to learn, grow and thrive.”
CPS will hire an additional 200 custodians to deep clean schools over the 2018 summer break and hire an additional 100 full-time employees following that period. CPS has also agreed to meet with Local 1 custodians on a quarterly basis to assess school conditions and ensure standards are being met.
The 1,700 CPS custodians plan to meet Saturday morning to discuss the latest BOMA and CPS contract updates.
MILWAUKEE – On Equal Pay Day, dozens of labor and community allies, including Alderwoman Chantia Lewis (9th District) and Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mahlon Mitchell, rallied outside Milwaukee City Hall in support of pay equality and to welcome local security officers into their union, SEIU Local 1.
Over the past year, Milwaukee security officers who protect City Hall, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Schlitz Park, the county transit system and many other public and private buildings across the city have been fighting for higher wages, better benefits and a safer Milwaukee for all of its residents.
“Having a union means we now have a fair shot at a good future for ourselves and our families,” said Antonisha Malone, a security officer at the US Bank Center. “We now have a strong, collective voice on the job that will allow us to improve our economic security and negotiate for things like fair scheduling, paid time off, parental leave and other improvements.”
Despite anti-worker state policies and President Trump’s efforts to weaken workplace protections for women, the nearly 300 security officers who work for the region’s leading contractors, including Allied Universal, G4S, Prudential Security and Securitas, have now won their union with SEIU Local 1. They are expected to begin bargaining their historic contract this summer.
A strong union contract with good raises and better benefits will help Milwaukee working families make ends meet while ensuring that working people have a voice on the job to protect themselves from pay disparity and other forms of discrimination.
“We’re rising up on Equal Pay Day, because we know that a strong union contract guarantees equal pay for equal work,” Malone said.
Alderwoman Lewis and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mitchell also stood with the union members in support of pay equity.
“Because women still earn less than men, unions are making sure that the wage gap is closed,” Lewis said. “I stand with you proudly, and I understand that it is our responsibility to support policies that help working families.”
“The gender pay gap is an embarrassing reality that is perpetuated in Wisconsin by the low-wage economy that Scott Walker built,” Mitchell said. “From rectifying the gender and racial wage gaps to raising wages for working families – people coming together, like in unions, is the way to build an economy that works for all of us.”
Janitors pledge to stand with Chicago Public Schools custodians ahead of possible strike as negotiations for 1,700 with cleaning contractors stall
CHICAGO – By an overwhelming margin, 10,000 Chicagoland SEIU Local 1 janitors approved strong new union contracts that guarantee good annual raises, quality healthcare and comprehensive retirement benefits. The contracts, negotiated with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) as well as suburban contractors, will help janitors across the Chicagoland area support their families and strengthen their communities. The janitors also pledged to support the 1,700 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) custodians ahead of a possible strike after contractors refused to guarantee custodians the resources they need to keep schools clean and healthy for students and teachers.
“These economic gains will directly benefit Chicagoland’s economy for years to come, helping working people build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “Local 1 janitors are leading the way for all working people – when we stand up together and bargain collectively, we all win.”
“By coming together, Local 1 janitors were able to win strong new contracts and the financial security we need,” said SEIU Local 1 janitor Jose Bernal. “Now, we’re ready to stand with CPS custodians as they prepare to do whatever it takes to win the supplies and staffing they need to keep schools clean.”
Negotiations for more than 1,700 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) custodians continue, and CPS custodians have threatened to strike if contractors do not guarantee them the supplies and 500 more custodians they need to keep schools clean for students. Many custodians buy their own supplies and suffer immense and impossible workloads, with some schools only having one custodian available to clean after school hours. The 10,000 Local 1 janitors who ratified their contracts pledged to support CPS custodians as they prepare to do whatever it takes to win cleaner schools for children and to hold contractors like Aramark accountable to the CPS community.
DETROIT – As janitors, security officers, healthcare workers and public sector workers across Detroit are in the process of choosing the candidate who deserves their vote in the primary, Gail Stiger, a member of Service Employees International Union Local 1, was joined by former State Senator Gretchen Whitmer for a day in her life. Ms. Whitmer walked a day in this janitor’s shoes and heard about the issues she faces each day, while working a low wage job in the McNamara Terminal. Ms. Whitmer heard what it takes to not only survive on low wages, but also what is needed to ensure that all of Detroit’s neighborhoods can thrive.
“If I were to talk to the next Governor, I would tell him or her that they should think about what their life would be like if they didn’t make as much – if they made as little as me,” said Stiger. “I would ask them to think about how much they would struggle to make ends meet, deciding which bill to pay or how they were going to get to work. I’m tired of struggling. I would ask them to be compassionate and to help us by working to raise wages and build our unions because that is how you can help.”
Service workers are calling on their next governor to raise wages, support the right to join together in a union, build our communities and keep the people of Michigan safe. More than 1,000 janitors in Detroit, including the janitors at McNamara Terminal, will kick off negotiations for their Master Janitorial Contract this summer, with the current agreement expiring on July 31. SEIU Local 1 is also working to bring workers across the Detroit area, including janitors, airport workers and arena district workers, a voice on the job as they are standing together for a $15 minimum wage and union rights.
“Working with Gail today has sharpened my focus and eliminated my patience for anyone who stands in the way of a fair wage for Michiganders who work hard and play by the rules,” said Whitmer. “We can build an economy that works for everyone by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and making it easier, not harder for workers to organize unions starting with repealing right to work. I stand with the hardworking men and women who keep our airport clean and safe, and I’ll never stop fighting for workers in Michigan.”
Pritzker Will be the Progressive Leader Working Families Need in Springfield
CHICAGO – The SEIU Illinois State Council is proud to endorse J.B. Pritzker for governor.
“The janitors, health care and home care workers, security officers, social service workers, adjunct faculty, doorstaff and more of SEIU know J.B. Pritzker will be the leader working families need in Springfield,” said SEIU Illinois State Council Vice President Greg Kelley. “From his pledge to raising the Illinois minimum wage to $15 to his strong support for expanding affordable healthcare and child care, J.B. has demonstrated his commitment to stand up for our state’s working families.”
“By every single metric, Bruce Rauner is a complete disaster for working people,” said SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff. “Stagnant wages, tepid economic growth, ballooning debt, attacks on working people and a steadfast refusal to do the basics of his job are just a few examples of his failed record and leadership.”
“Illinois working families deserve better than a right-wing ideologue like Bruce Rauner. The working people of the labor movement, including 150,000 SEIU members, are ready to defeat Bruce Rauner in November.”
Candidates Will Fight for the Working Families of Illinois
CHICAGO – On behalf of the 150,000 janitors, security officers, health care and home care workers, public employees and more, the SEIU Illinois State Council proudly supported its endorsed candidates both financially and with an enthusiastic grassroots effort. Hundreds of SEIU members knocked on more than 40,000 doors and made thousands of calls. More than 200,000 pieces of literature were sent to communicate with voters and nearly $500,000 was donated in direct contributions to the endorsed candidates. In addition, thousands of text messages and live calls were used to turn out SEIU members for the endorsed candidates.
The following statement is from SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff:
“The SEIU Illinois State Council is proud to stand with and congratulate our winning endorsed candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election.
“These candidates will best represent the interests and values of working families in our great state by fighting for a $15 minimum wage, higher wages for all and affordable health care.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with them in the fight for economic, immigrant, racial and environmental justice.”
The victorious SEIU-endorsed candidates include:
Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Illinois 4th Congressional District
Kwame Raoul for Illinois Attorney General
Toni Preckwinkle for Cook County Board President
Karen Yarbrough for Cook County Clerk
Cook County Board of Commissioners
Brandon Johnson, 1st District
Dennis Deer, 2nd District
Bill Lowry, 3rd District
Stanley Moore, 4th District
Deborah Sims, 5th District
Donna Miller, 6th District
Luis Arroyo Jr., 8th District
Bridget Degnen, 12th District
Larry Suffredin, 13th District
Ram Villivalam, 8th District
Iris Martinez, 20th District
Ann Gillespie, 27th District
Theresa Mah, 2nd District
Delia Ramirez, 4th District
Lamont Robinson Jr., 5th District
Sonya Harper, 6th District
Kelly Cassidy, 14th District
Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, 17th District
Robert Martwick, 19th District
Lisa Hernandez, 24th District
Justin Slaughter, 27th District
Robert “Bob” Rita, 28th District
Thaddeus Jones, 29th District
William “Will” Davis, 30th District
Mary Flowers, 31st District
Lance Yednock, 76th District
Natalie Manley, 98th District
Marsha Griffin, 115th District
CHICAGO — On Wednesday, March 21, Chicago Public School (CPS) custodians, holding mops and bottles of iconic cleaning product Fabuloso, rallied for fabulous and clean schools outside Wednesday’s CPS Board meeting. Custodians both inside and outside the board meeting urged CPS to support the 2,000 hardworking custodians who are currently in contract negotiations with contractors Aramark, RJB, Gerelex and more.
“Too many CPS custodians do not receive the proper staffing or supplies we need to keep schools healthy and clean for students and teachers,” said SEIU Local 1 Custodian Maxine Gladney. “It’s time contractors start valuing our work and offering us the resources we need to do our jobs.”
Without guarantees of proper staffing levels or supplies, many CPS custodians struggle to keep schools as clean and healthy as possible. Many custodians buy supplies like Fabuloso with money out of their own pockets because they are deeply dedicated to their schools and students. Custodians are also fighting for a dignified wage that reflects the valuable work they do as well as more sick days to prevent illness from spreading in schools.
These issues can be addressed with a strong new contract that guarantees proper staffing, supplies, sick days and a dignified wage for CPS custodians. The current contract for custodians expires on April 8. Custodians urged the CPS Board to stand with them as they bargain with contractors for cleaner schools and a better future for their communities.