ABC 20/20 featured a segment called ‘“My Reality: A Hidden America,’ which focused on low-wage workers, including two SEIU Local 1 higher education faculty members, who are often overlooked in today’s economy. In the episode, Diane Sawyer shadowed workers around the country as they went about their day-to-day routine.
Click here to watch the video and check out the 20/20 segment, which features Local 1 higher ed faculty members at Washington University, as well as Terrence Wise, a Kansas City fast food worker and Stand Up KC Fight for $15 activist.
WEST RIDGE — A Rohingya refugee who immigrated to the U.S. two years ago from war-torn Myanmar hoped he would find opportunity and a second chance by settling in Chicago, with a job at O’Hare. Instead, Amir Hussin Bin Mohamadur Rahman has found himself at the center of a workers rights struggle unfolding within Chicago’s labor force.
Rahman, 25, got a job shortly after his arrival in June 2015 with Scrub, Inc., a company that employs workers who clean the cabins of planes after flights.
That relationship ended in late November after Rahman publicly rallied alongside Service Employees International Union members and other airport workers in a one-day strike with the “Fight For $15” minimum wage campaign.
Rahman also spoke out at an employee meeting advocating for Scrub, Inc. workers to unionize, an act he alleges led to his firing.
“The day that he [stood] up in the meeting, talking about ‘Fight For $15’, saying he wants to go on strike, things changed,” said Wahida Rafiq, a translator who Rahman and another Scrub, Inc. worker spoke through in an interview with DNAinfo.
The union vote came earlier this month, when 90 custodians elected to join the Service Employees International Union Local 1, which represents more than 300 workers in the district.
The custodians work for the Marcis & Associates janitorial services firm, which earlier this year won a $10 million, three-year contract with the school district.
Union members had supported the district’s decision to give the contract to a new company, saying the previous firm did not recognize union workers and that schools had seen a decline in cleanliness amid understaffing.
Velma Chapman, a custodian at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, said in a statement from the union that the custodians will be better able to care for the schools as members of SEIU Local 1.
“My coworkers and I came together on the job so we could have a voice in keeping KCPS as clean and healthy as possible,” Chapman said.
It seems that the cleaning companies who employ janitors in Columbus have awakened to a new reality: they are dealing with a fighting union. On December 3 about 750 Columbus janitors ratified a new 3-year contract. Negotiations were concluded much more swiftly than for the previous contract, and the janitors’ employers made significant concessions.
The janitors, who are members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, will receive between $2000 and $3000 more in wages per year over the life of the contract. The contract also strengthens protections for members, including discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity. It also adds funeral leave for the first time.
The cleaning companies probably didn’t want a repeat of 2013, when the janitors organized numerous protests, held rolling strikes in downtown Columbus office buildings, and were arrested during sit-ins at Fifth Third Bank and PNC Bank.
“This contract will allow janitors, who perform difficult and thankless work, the ability to provide for their families and their communities,” said SEIU Local 1 member Diane Hudson. “The increase in pay is significant and that will make a huge difference in my life. As someone who is caring for an aging parent, time is very important to me, but so is knowing that I can afford to pay my bills. The increased wages will allow me to spend more time caring for my mother and doing things with my family.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 18, 2017
Metropolitan Security Officers approve contract agreement for more than 7,000 Chicagoland officers
CHICAGO—Metropolitan Security Officers have negotiated and ratified a new three-year contract that will help families invest in their communities and help in creating a better Chicago. While Chicago’s Metro Security Officers protect high-profile sites like University of Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority, United Airlines in the Willis Tower, and Maggie Daley Park, many officers reside in Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods.
“When contractors in Chicago invest in families, our children and our communities benefit,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “By standing together, Metropolitan Security Officers won a great contract that will benefit Chicagoland for years to come.”
The security officers approved a new union contract with important wage increases while also maintaining health care benefits and more.
More than 7,000 working families will benefit from this historical contract. Together, the officers will bring approximately $25 million into their communities over the three year period, pumping much needed resources into our city’s struggling neighborhoods.
“By sticking together, Metro Security Officers won good raises as well as better benefits,” said Maggie Daley Park Security Officer Idris Amao. “This will give us more opportunities to invest in our communities.”
The new three-year Metro Security Officers’ contract, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, guarantees:
SEIU Local 1 unites 50,000 property service workers in the Midwest, including security officers, janitors, window washers and residential doormen. Together we work to build strength for all working people, on the job and in our communities.
Workers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport will join workers at airports nationwide at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to advocate for an increase in the minimum wage.
In addition, at 5 p.m. that day, fast food cooks and cashiers, other service industry workers and community allies along with Raise Up Cleveland, a group advocating a $15 an hour minimum wage, will rally in front of the McDonald’s at 3050 Carnegie Ave., according to a release from the Service Employees International Union.
It’s part of a “Fight for $15 day of disruption” that will include protests at nearly 20 major airports; strikes by McDonald’s fast food cooks and cashiers from coast to coast; and demonstrations by baggage handlers and cabin cleaners at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and hospital workers in Pittsburgh.
Read the full story over at Crain’s Cleveland.
Las protestas estallaron en diversas ciudades, entre ellas Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis y Nueva York. Destacaba la participación de empleados de restaurantes de comida rápida, de empleadas domésticas y de niñeras. En varias ciudades los manifestantes bloquearon el tránsito en las calles.
En Chicago, cientos de manifestantes se aglomeraron frente al Aeropuerto Internacional O’Hare portando carteles y gritando consignas. La policía acordonó un pasillo por el cual los usuarios del aeropuerto podían caminar. Se informó que unos 500 trabajadores del aeropuerto estaban en huelga.
Lee la historia completa en Telemundo Chicago!
O’HARE — Thanksgiving air travelers breathed a sigh of relief as workers at O’Hare International Airport who handle bags, clean jets and help passengers in wheelchairs say they will strike only after the holiday, on Tuesday Nov. 29.
The one-day strike, announced Monday morning at O’Hare, is part of an effort by workers to win a minimum wage of $15 an hour plus added safety measures.
There were fears that the group would strike this week around Thanksgiving, one of the busiest times of the year for airline travel. But workers instead picked the Tuesday after the holiday.
Read the full story over at DNA Info.
The work stoppage will deliberately miss the busy Thanksgiving travel week, a tactic aimed at bolstering public support, said spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union during a at a press conference at the airport Monday morning.
“It was never their intent to disrupt travel,” said the spokeswoman. “They do want to gain public support.”
Janitors, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants want a wage of $15 an hour. Some are paid minimum wage, $8.25 an hour in Illinois. The strike would not affect more critical workers, like air traffic controllers and security screeners.
Read the full story over at CNN Money.