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.
Over the weekend, violent, hate-filled white supremacists marched throughout Charlottesville, VA. These domestic terrorists waved their ignorance with Nazi and Confederate flags. They were there, proclaiming that the white race is the superior race and should dominate our country. These are the faces of the alt-right, who have been emboldened by the election of Trump.
One white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. In the work we do, at rallies and marches, she could have been any one of us.
SEIU Local 1 is committed to creating a world where all have the opportunity to live and thrive. As an organization that is working to end anti-black racism, SEIU Local 1 is committed to wiping out oppression at all levels. White supremacy, in Charlottesville and beyond, is against us and our values. We will continue to fight for justice and liberation for our members, families, and communities.
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!
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.
SEIU Local 1 Residential Division engineers, janitors, and maintenance workers have spent weeks, tirelessly working on negotiating a strong, new contract. When Local 1 members came together and kicked off their campaign to protect their health benefits, win good raises, and secure their retirement programs, they also wanted to let Chicago contractors know: We mean business!
United in the fight, janitors, maintenance workers, and engineers have rallied for the past few weeks, and their strength continues to grow! Each residential rally is bigger than the last with future rallies planned in the coming weeks.
Despite our efforts to build a better future for our families, contract negotiations broke down with ABOMA last week. ABOMA has refused to budge on important issues to Local 1 residential members and their families but Local 1 members will not go down without a fight! We will continue to stand united as we face obstacles in negotiations.
Together, we are showing ABOMA AND non-union contractors throughout Chicago that we fight hard and don’t back down. We won’t back down because this is about what our families and what our great city deserves. We’re fighting to raise standards for ALL working people in Chicago. Local 1 members will keep up the pressure until they win the financial security they need to support their families.
Stay tuned for more updates!
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel followed through on his promise to tie licenses for airport contractors to a “labor peace agreement” that allows baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, aircraft maintenance workers and security guards to organize without interference.
But the ordinance the mayor introduced goes beyond prohibiting contractors from interfering and preventing those workers from “engaging in strikes, picketing, work stoppages, boycotts or other economic interference.”
It would mandate those airline contractors and sub-contractors to pay their employees no less than $13.45-an-hour beginning on July 1, 2018, with annual increases every year after that tied to the cost-of-living.
Employees whose wages include gratuities would have to be paid $1-an-hour more than the $5.95-an-hour minimum wage that applies to tipped employees.
“Nothing shall impede licensed employees from bargaining collectively with representatives of their own choosing to establish wages or conditions of work in excess of the minimum standards,” the ordinance states.
Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the Emanuel floor leader who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Workforce Development, said the ordinance is patterned after a licensing plan at the Los Angeles airport that has already withstood a court challenge.
“We have set a [wage] floor. And we think that helps all of the workers at O’Hare,” O’Connor said Thursday.
“To the extent that the union can come in and enhance that, we have laid the table for that to take place. It’s not a city function to do the bargaining, but to make sure we have it where it can go on and that the airport runs in a smooth way.”
Jerry Morrison, assistant to the president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, praised Emanuel for going beyond the terms of a long-stalled airport living wage ordinance that was nearly brought to a vote on the City Council floor over the mayor’s objections.
“We’re excited that the mayor was willing to take a stand like that,” Morrison said.
Morrison stressed that there is “no guarantee of union membership.” SEIU Local 1 still must organize airport contract employees and hold union elections.
But the mayor’s ordinance “lays important groundwork,” by establishing “minimum standards” that the city, as the operator of O’Hare and Midway, will insist on, Morrison said.
“There will be some of these contractors that will be resistant. But the nice thing about a labor peace [agreement] is that these guys can’t go out and run multi-million dollar anti-union campaigns,” Morrison said.
“People will join a union 80-to-90 percent of the time if there’s fair, free and open elections and there’s not an anti-union smear campaign by an employer.”
Exciting News: Over 8,000 contracted airport workers in Chicago are a huge step closer in their Fight For $15 and union rights! Read the full piece over at The Chicago Sun-Times.
Police shootings, LGBT rights and immigration issues often are not associated with the traditional American labor movement.
But for Paul Nappier, a 30 year-old organizer for the Service Employees International Union Local 1 in Indianapolis, these are the issues that affect his members.
Many local members have undocumented family members, friends who have been killed by police and many themselves live in poverty, he says in a dusty union hall on West Washington Street.
“People, especially younger people today, are completely dissatisfied with the income disparities and racism we’ve inherited,” Nappier said, adding that “for too long, organized labor has ignored these issues.”
Only recently have large international unions come to terms with issues of racism and sexism. In February 2015, the AFL-CIO created a new Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to examine racial issues within labor.
And the data show that there is an untapped segment of workers for the service industry union. In the service industry, black workers comprise 20.5 percent of all combined food-preparation and serving workers, while Hispanics are 18.7 percent of those workers, according to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
Additionally, in 2015, millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
Nappier said his next challenge is getting more younger people signed up for union membership.
While millennials (people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) hold a much more favorable view of labor unions than do older Americans — statistics show that they are the least likely age group to be union members.
Marquita Walker, a labor studies professor at Indiana University, says that may be because unions were traditionally exclusionary to women and people of color.
“And there is still a great deal of bias in promoting these people to leaders in the movement,” she said.
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.
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.
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!