News & Events

SEIU Local 1 members continue to make headlines in their fight for economic and social justice! Be sure to check out their stories in the news as well as the Local 1 blog.

Road to the Chicago Airport Worker Ordinance: Part 1

Para leer en español, se desplaza hacia abajo / Scroll down to read the Spanish version.

Have you heard the big news? Chicago airport workers are moving a HUGE step forward in their fight for $15 and union rights!

Nearly 8,000 contracted service workers at O’Hare and Midway airports are close to winning a $13.45 minimum wage and the right to join a union thanks to an SEIU Local 1-backed ordinance set for a Chicago City Council vote on September 6.

This important measure—which will put underpaid airport workers on a path toward yearly raises and all the benefits that come with union membership—is the direct result of years of tireless organizing and protesting by airport workers and their allies at SEIU Local 1. We came together and showed our city that poverty doesn’t fly!

In the weeks leading up to the Chicago City Council vote on September 6, SEIU Local 1 will chronicle the key events that brought airport workers to this point in their campaign through our five-part “Road to the Chicago Airport Worker Ordinance” blog post series.

Follow along as we document how far Chicago airport workers have come since launching their campaign two years ago and what lies ahead in their fight for a better future!

O’Hare Airport Workers Launch Campaign For $15 And Union Rights
September 29, 2015

Following the lead of millions of underpaid workers around the country, thousands of passenger service workers, security officers and janitors at O’Hare Airport joined the larger Fight for $15 movement to raise standards for all workers.

Community, faith and labor allies from Arise Chicago, SEIU Local 1 and the Fight for $15 movement rallied with airport workers at O’Hare as they kicked off their campaign.

Universal Security Officers Strike At O’Hare
November 19, 2015

Security officers who work for Universal Security at O’Hare went on strike to protest against unfair labor practices by their employer. The security officers called on their employer to stop interfering with their efforts to organize.

The strike was part of a national day of action coordinated by SEIU’s Airport Workers United campaign. Contracted airport workers also struck in Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, New York City and Philadelphia.

On MLK Day, O’Hare Airport Workers Commit Civil Disobedience Outside United Airlines’ Headquarters
January 18, 2016

Below-zero temperatures didn’t stop O’Hare Airport workers and their SEIU Local 1 allies from taking the streets on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to call for justice and equity at our nation’s airports. The group demonstrated outside United Airlines’ Chicago-based headquarters, and 15 people were arrested after engaging in civil disobedience by linking arms in the street and blocking traffic.

O’Hare baggage handlers, security officers and passenger service workers made it clear they’re willing to do whatever it takes to win $15 and union rights.

Contracted airport workers in Boston, Miami, Newark, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C. also staged civil disobedience actions on MLK Day.

Stay tuned this week for our second installment of the “Road to the Chicago Airport Worker Ordinance” blog post series.

¿Han escuchado la gran noticia? ¡Los trabajadores de los aeropuertos de Chicago están dando un ENORME paso adelante en su lucha por los $15 y derechos bajo la Unión!

Cerca de 8,000 trabajadores de servicios contratados en los aeropuertos O’Hare y Midway están cerca de conseguir un salario mínimo de $13.45 y el derecho a afiliarse a una Unión gracias a una ordenanza respaldada por el Local 1 de SEIU que estará sujeta a votación en el Consejo Municipal de Chicago el día 6 de septiembre.

Esta medida tan importante, que llevará a los trabajadores del aeropuerto que ganan tan poco hacia el camino a recibir aumentos anuales y todos los beneficios que conlleva la membrecía en la Unión, es el resultado directo de años dedicados por los trabajadores del aeropuerto y sus aliados en el Local 1 de SEIU a organizarse y protestar sin descanso. ¡Unimos fuerzas y le demostramos a nuestra ciudad que la pobreza no está en nada!

En las semanas que faltan para la votación por el Consejo Municipal de Chicago el 6 de septiembre, el Local 1 de SEIU relatará los eventos clave que llevaron a los trabajadores de los aeropuertos a este punto en su campaña a través de nuestra serie de entradas de blog de cinco partes, “El camino a la Ordenanza sobre los Trabajadores de los Aeropuertos de Chicago.”

Pueden seguir el trayecto a medida que documentamos lo lejos que han llegado los trabajadores de los aeropuertos de Chicago desde que lanzaron su campaña hace dos años y ¡lo que les queda por delante en su lucha por un futuro mejor!

Los trabajadores del aeropuerto O’Hare lanzan su campaña por los $15 y derechos bajo la Unión
29 de septiembre de 2015

Siguiendo el ejemplo de millones de trabajadores mal pagados en todo el país, miles de trabajadores de servicios a pasajeros, guardias de seguridad y trabajadores de limpieza en el aeropuerto O’Hare se unieron al movimiento mayor de la Lucha por los $15 para elevar los estándares para todos los trabajadores.

Los aliados comunitarios, religiosos y del sector laboral de la organización Arise Chicago, el Local 1 de SEIU y del movimiento de la Lucha por los $15 hicieron una manifestación con los trabajadores del aeropuerto en O’Hare a medida que estos lanzaron su campaña.

Los guardias de seguridad de Universal se van a la huelga en O’Hare
19 de noviembre de 2015

Los guardias de seguridad que trabajan para la empresa Universal Security en O’Hare se fueron en huelga para protestar contra las prácticas laborales injustas cometidas por su empleador. Los guardias de seguridad hicieron un llamado a su empleador para que deje de interferir en sus esfuerzos por organizarse.

La huelga fue parte de un día nacional de acción coordinado por la campaña de SEIU de Trabajadores del Aeropuerto Unidos. Los trabajadores bajo contrato en los aeropuertos también hicieron huelgas en Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, la ciudad de Nueva York y Filadelfia.

En el Día de Martin Luther King, los trabajadores del aeropuerto O’Hare cometen desobediencia civil frente a las oficinas principales de United Airlines
18 de enero de 2016

Las frígidas temperaturas bajo cero no detuvieron a los trabajadores del aeropuerto O’Hare ni a sus aliados del Local 1 de SEIU de irse a las calles en el Día de Martin Luther King Jr. para exigir justicia e igualdad en los aeropuertos de nuestra nación. El grupo hizo una manifestación frente a las oficinas principales de United Airlines basadas en Chicago, y 15 personas resultaron arrestadas después de cometer actos de desobediencia civil uniéndose de brazos en la calle y bloqueando el tráfico.

Los que manejan el equipaje en O’Hare, los guardias de seguridad y los trabajadores de servicios a pasajeros dejaron claro que están dispuestos a hacer lo que sea necesario para conseguir $15 y derechos bajo la Unión.

Los trabajadores bajo contrato en los aeropuertos en Boston, Miami, Newark, la ciudad de Nueva York, Filadelfia, Portland, Seattle y Washington, D.C. también llevaron a cabo acciones de desobediencia civil en el Día de Martin Luther King.

Estén atentos esta semana para nuestra segunda parte de la serie de entradas de blog “El camino a la Ordenanza sobre los Trabajadores de los Aeropuertos de Chicago.”

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SEIU Local 1 Members Join Senator Bernie Sanders and Chuck Jones on stage at the “Good Jobs Nation” Rally

CONTACT: Leesa Allmond,, 312-233-8732

Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich,, 708-655-9681

SEIU Local 1 Members Join Senator Bernie Sanders and Chuck Jones on stage at the “Good Jobs Nation” Rally

INDIANAPOLIS – The following statement is on behalf of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1. Today, SEIU Local 1 members Adela Cruz, Rosalba Melchor, and Doris Jones joined Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and  retired President of United Steelworkers Local 1999 Chuck Jones, on stage at the “Good Jobs Nation” Rally: 

“Today, Local 1 janitors are being recognized at the ‘Good Jobs Nation’ Rally alongside Senator Bernie Sanders as an example of how the working families of Indy are fighting back and winning in the face of an economy and presidency that puts working people last.

“For months, SEIU Local 1 janitors in Indianapolis lead the fight against irresponsible, non-union janitorial contractors that undercut standards for the entire city  in two downtown buildings.

“Through the relentless organizing efforts of Local 1  janitors, property management of the prominent Gold Building and 251 E. Ohio kicked out the non-union janitorial contractor and hired a union janitorial contractor – whose janitors come back to work tomorrow, August 22nd.

“This is a huge win for our whole city because when the working families of Indianapolis succeed, we all succeed.”



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.

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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 Statement On the White Supremacist Rally and Attack in Charlottesville

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.

Click here to read the full statement from SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry.

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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
Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich (708) 655-9681

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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When it comes to contract negotiations, SEIU Local 1 Residential members mean business

                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!

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Emanuel proposes raise, right to organize for airport employees

Nearly 8,000 contract employees at O’Hare Airport would be paid “no less than $13.45-an-hour” and guaranteed the right to join unions under a mayoral plan embraced by organized labor.

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.

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Labor movement turns to social activism to attract millennials

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.

That is why Nappier and several other millennial Indianapolis labor leaders rally and protest for activist causes that have little to do with workplace conditions.

“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.

 Nappier says the need for change within the labor movement to address social justice issues is pressing, especially as union ranks are increasingly thin and more diverse. Nationally, union membership has declined by 2.9 million since 1983. The percentage of the workforce belonging unions dropped to 11.1 percent in 2015 from 20.1 percent in 1983.


Today, the membership of SEIU Local 1, for instance, is 30 percent immigrants, many of them women, Nappier said.


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.

Be sure to check out the full video over at The Indy Star!

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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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