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.

O’Hare Workers to Go on Strike

downloadCHICAGO (AP) — A strike by hourly workers at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago will add another dimension to a nationwide day of protests by fast-food employees who have been pushing for a $15 hourly wage and union rights, organizers said Monday.

Thousands of workers plan to walk off the job at McDonald’s restaurants and other fast-food spots in more than 340 cities on Nov. 29, organizers said in a news release. The planned “Day of Disruption” will mark the fourth anniversary of the first protests at McDonald’s restaurants in New York.

The attention-grabbing airport strike is “going to cause complete disruption in travel plans for the day and maybe days to come,” said Kendall Fells, national organizing director of the Fight for $15 campaign. “Four decades ago, airport jobs were jobs you could live off of. Now airport jobs are just like fast-food jobs. We’re all standing together.”

The Service Employees International Union announced Monday that hundreds of workers will strike that day at O’Hare, one of the nation’s busiest airports. The union has helped fund and staff the Fight for $15 campaign.

Read the full story over at U.S. News.

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Thousands of workers join ‘Fight for $15’ protests at O’Hare and across Chicago

WGN Airport StrikeCHICAGO —  A nationwide “Day of Disruption” didn’t really disrupt much as the Fight for $15 made its way to O’Hare Airport Tuesday afternoon, where demonstrators and the SEIU say workers need to earn $15 an hour to raise their families.

The Fight for $15 ended at O’Hare Airport, where the SEIU estimates there were 2,000 protestors, 500 of whom walked off the job at American and United. Janitors, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants are among those rallying for a $15 hourly minimum wage. Some of those participating are contracted by Prospect Airport Services and AirScrub Inc.

“My daughters need root canals and I can’t even take them to do that,” said Kisha Rivera, who makes $10.50 an hour.

Oliwia Pac, a student who works several jobs at O’Hare, said the lowest paying is as a wheelchair attendant making minimum wage or $8.75 an hour.

“It’s tough. With the wages I live paycheck to paycheck,” Pac said.

Protestors say they we weren’t trying to shut the airport down, but to elevate the voice of the workers. O’Hare is an economic engine. They say they deserve to make a living wage.

Read the full story over at WGN-TV.

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Hundreds strike at O’Hare, but flight operations not disrupted

Tribune Airport StrikeHundreds of workers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport spent Tuesday on strike to protest low wages, but officials said it had little impact on flight operations.

The strike, organized by the Service Employees International Union Local 1, involved baggage handlers, janitors, airplane cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants, many of whom convened for a rally in front of the airport at noon to call for a $15 minimum wage and union rights. Including supporters, the crowd swelled to 1,100, one police officer estimated.

“We’re not asking for special treatment, we’re asking for decent treatment,” Kisha Rivera, 41, who has worked as an airplane cabin cleaner for four months and makes the city’s $10.50 a hour minimum wage, told the cheering crowd. She later corrected herself: “We’re not asking, we’re demanding.”

Read the full story over at the Chicago Tribune.

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SEIU activists work with students to GOTV

57e2de62ce806.imageUnion activists are working with college students, faculty and staff – including at Washington University and Saint Louis University – to educate and energize voters for the November 8 general election.

“Candidates on all levels – federal, state or local – need to address the high cost of tuition so students are debt free and able to pursue their dreams,” said Cody Burleson, a graduate worker at Washington University in St. Louis. “Candidates can lock in the college vote by standing with us to restore the promise of higher education.”

Events were held on both Washington University and Saint Louis University’s campuses last week to highlight these issues with the goal of reaching more than one million voters in 16 states. At 50 campuses this fall, organizers said, thousands of professors and graduate assistants will be knocking on doors, phone banking and convening voter information sessions to educate campus goers on key issues like debt-free college and better pay for students and faculty.

Activists from Service Employees International Union Local 1 – which represents nearly 50,000 workers throughout the Midwest – are coordinating with student assistants, faculty, alumni and community allies at 50 campuses across the country on what the call “GOTV U Pledge Week.”

Read the full story over at The St. Louis American.

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Janitors in Columbus and Cincinnati gear up for new union contract

opt_IMG_2163Diane Hudson wants a new union contract that will bring her family out of poverty. She works as a janitor at the Columbus Academy, a private PreK-12 school in Gahanna. Hudson supports her elderly mother and struggles every month to make ends meet. A living wage would mean “we don’t have to be under so much stress, living paycheck to paycheck,” she said.

On October 29 hundreds of janitors held a rally at the Great American Tower in Cincinnati to kick off contract negotiations. The new contracts will affect 1,800 members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 in central and southern Ohio, including 800 janitors who work in the Columbus area. The current Columbus contract, which expires December 31, covers  janitors who clean the offices of Columbus’ largest companies, including Nationwide, Huntington, JP Morgan Chase, and AEP.

Benefits are also an issue for Diane Hudson. “I’d like to get paid for PTO time,” she said. “Often when I put in for it, it’s denied. We also need a better health plan.” Hudson is not on her company’s insurance plan because she cannot afford the high premiums. “It would mean a great deal to me to be able to go to the doctor when I need to,” she said.

Hudson’s employer is Scioto Services, a cleaning company that contracts janitorial services to the Columbus Academy. Full-time tuition at Columbus Academy ranges from $17,500 to $25,000 a year. Its annual operating budget is $25.7 million.

Read the full story at the Columbus Free Beacon.

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Rep. Robin Kelly joins SEIU Local 1 Security Officers starting ‘Fight for 15’ contract negotiations

DSC_0897The “Fight for 15” movement is alive and well in the state of Illinois. SEIU Local 1 Metropolitan Chicago security officers, who secure high-profile sites like the University of Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority, United Airlines in the Willis Tower, and Maggie Daley Park, were joined by Second District Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) to kick off their contract campaign to reduce violence and improve safety in the Chicagoland area. The sad truth is that median wage for a Metro security officer is $11.25 an hour, just over $23,000 annually. Officers earn as little as $9.40 an hour, or $19,000 annually. These low wages leave many Metro officers trapped in struggling neighborhoods.

President of SEIU Local 1, Tom Balanoff, says that a higher wage for security pays off in higher dividends to the community in the form of helping working families and keeping communities safer.

Congresswoman Kelly calls it “fighting the right kind of fight.” Her friend and House of Representatives colleagues, the legendary John Lewis, would call this fight “good trouble.” The contract will cover 6,000 Chicagoland security officers across Cook County, many of whom live in our area’s roughest neighborhoods. Congresswoman Kelly says, “That’s a fight for a better contract and for a fair wage for you to take care of your families.”

Read the full story over at the Daily Kos.

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Union Files Complaint Over O’Hare Working Conditions

NBC OSHA 1Workers at O’Hare Airport say contractors they work for are committing safety and health violations that putting them at risk for serious injuries.

Service Employee International Union Local 1 filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against three contractors for what they call widespread violations Monday. Both the union and Congressman Luis Gutierrez are calling for an investigation.

Watch the full video and read the full story over at NBC Chicago.

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Marlen Garcia: A ‘moral obligation’ to pay airport workers fairly

1-5 Lawrence & Manheim Rd.Members of the SEIU Local 1 held a rally and press conference just outside of O'Hare International Airport to highlight the plight of the security workers at both O'Hare and Midway airports. Their contract expired on December 31, 2001. The President of Local 1 SEIU Tom Balanoff spoke on their behalf. Sun-Times photo Robert A. Davis

The major airlines operating at O’Hare International Airport should make sure their contractors aren’t ripping off low-level workers such as janitors and baggage handlers. It’s the right thing to do.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also should see to it that workers, including airplane cabin cleaners, aren’t being forced to work through breaks, start work early and stay late — with no pay for those hours. He should demand that wheelchair attendants be brought to minimum wage when tips don’t get them there.

Some nonunion workers who say companies are skimming wages filed complaints with the Illinois Department of Labor and the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. The latter oversees enforcement of Chicago’s $10.50 minimum wage. The Service Employees International Union Local 1, which wants to unionize the workers, is leading the effort.

Read the full story over at the Chicago Sun-Times.

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SEIU Local 1 Janitor Doris Williams: “Jason Kander Stood with Us. Now We Stand With Him”


CONTACT Nick Desideri 630-779-5510

IMG_0576SEIU Local 1 Janitor Doris Williams: “Jason Kander Stood with Us. Now We Stand With Him”  

KANSAS CITY, MO – The following is a statement from SEIU Local 1 janitor Doris Williams:

“In March, Secretary of State Kander stood with 900 Kansas City janitors as we fought for a living wage. By coming together, we were able to win a strong contract that will help us provide for our families.

“Now, we’re proud to stand with him as he campaigns for the U.S. Senate. He has proven he is on the side of working families like mine.

“The janitors, maintenance mechanics, stadium workers, and adjunct professors of SEIU Local 1 will work hard to get out the vote for Jason in November, and we look forward to working with him after his victory.”


SEIU Local 1 unites nearly 50,000 working people across the Midwest including more than 3,000 in Kansas City. Local 1 in Kansas City represents a wide array of working people, including school cafeteria workers, maintenance mechanics at Kauffman Stadium, industrial workers, and commercial janitors.

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SCOTUS Rulings Uphold Freedom of Women

On June 27th, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down one of the nation’s toughest restrictions on abortion in the Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt case. The 5-3 ruling blocks Texas’s harmful Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which would have created an undue burden for women seeking abortion by making demanding, egregious requirements for abortion clinics. TRAP laws would have forced more than three-quarters of abortion clinics in Texas to shut down, thereby putting at risk the health of women, particularly working low-income women.

Today, SCOTUS also made great strides in its Voisine v. United States decision. The ruling asserts that reckless domestic assault qualifies as a misdemeanor of crime of domestic violence, therefore barring individuals from owning or buying guns under federal law. Domestic violence and guns are known to be a deadly combination, increasing a woman’s chance of being fatally shot in a domestic violence situation.

These rulings are victories for working women across the nation. They reaffirm women’s fundamental, constitutional health and human rights. Today, in our fight for social and economic justice, the fight for gender equity is more important than ever. Access to reproductive health care and the freedom of choice, and protections against violence bring us closer to a society characterized by gender-parity. We applaud the Supreme Court.

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