Press

Contact: press@seiu1.org

Window washers ratify 3-year agreement

chi-window-washers-seiu-ct0029676184-20150629 (1)

Carlos Perez, center, a lead organizer for Service Employees International Union Local 1, leads chants with window washers and their supporters during a rally for better wages June 29, 2015, in Chicago. Window washers “overwhelmingly” ratified a three-year labor contract July 22, 2015, that includes a pay raise.  (Michael Noble Jr. / Chicago Tribune)

By Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune July 22, 2015, 8:09 p.m. Window washers “overwhelmingly” ratified a three-year labor contract that would raise wages by up to 16 percent over the life of the agreement, the union said Wednesday. “It’s a good step but it’s not the end,” said Tom Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1. Balanoff said the agreement, which covers 235 window washers, was reached last week and averted a strike. The union negotiated with Corporate Cleaning Services and seven other companies that bargained together in a coalition. The workers, who now make from $11.15 to $17.65 per hour, will earn as much as $20.50 by the end of the contract, Balanoff said. The contract also calls for employers to pay 60 percent of health care insurance premiums, rather than a set amount, meaning companies will share cost increases with workers. Despite those wins, a point system workers sought to end was expanded and could be used by all eight companies. Under the system, a worker gets a set amount of points, or hours, to clean a building’s windows. If the window washers finish the work early, the company pays them commission. But if they work beyond the time allowed, they don’t get any additional pay. Workers felt the system forced them to rush and take shortcuts, often at the expense of safety. Window washer Cruz Guzman, 24, said the expansion of the system is disappointing, but the new contract contains language that keeps companies from lowering points and protects workers who chose to work on an hourly rate, rather than the point system. It also establishes seniority rights to protect older workers. Guzman said he sees the contract as a foundation. “We have a lot more to work on,” he said. Neal S. Zucker, chief executive of Corporate Cleaning Services, said in a statement that he believes the agreement is fair. “As Chicago’s largest, all-union window-washing company, Corporate Cleaning Services is proud to have led negotiations on behalf of not only our employees, but for all window washers in Chicago,” Zucker said.

Comments Off on Window washers ratify 3-year agreement

Window Washers Push for Higher Wages

Comments Off on Window Washers Push for Higher Wages

Milwaukee City Council Unanimously Passes Responsible Bidder’s Ordinance

Janitors have been fighting to raise standards in property services throughout Milwaukee for more than a decade. During that time, SEIU Local 1 members rallied in the streets, traveled and lobbied the State Capitol in Madison, stood with striking fast food workers, and have even risked their jobs and their livelihood standing side-by-side with security officers attempting to form a union.

Nearly one year ago, the janitors’ union wrote and proposed a Responsible Bidder’s Ordinance to the Milwaukee City Council. Allies along with Aldermen Tony Zielinski and Nik Kovac co-sponsored the ordinance and championed the janitors’ cause.

MKE janitors for WP smallLast week, Milwaukee’s Responsible Bidder Ordinance was passed by a unanimous 14-0 vote by the Milwaukee City Council and signed into law by Mayor Tom Barrett. The ordinance will empower the city to ensure that no irresponsible contractors get city tax dollars to perform janitorial services – preventing irresponsible contractors from winning public work without making operational changes. The law will also cover the security and food service industries, solidifying responsible public contracting in those sectors as well.

The unanimous passing of this Responsible Bidder’s Ordinance illustrates how fostering strong relationships with elected officials will help lift the entire city of Milwaukee with good jobs.

Comments Off on Milwaukee City Council Unanimously Passes Responsible Bidder’s Ordinance

200 SEIU LOCAL 1 JANITORS RALLIED DOWNTOWN DETROIT FOR GOOD JOBS

As Detroit-area janitors set out to bargain a new union contract that affects 1,500 workers and their families…

200 SEIU LOCAL 1 JANITORS RALLIED DOWNTOWN DETROIT FOR GOOD JOBS

DETROIT –Hundreds of SEIU Local 1 janitors kicked off contract negotiations today by rallying for good jobs downtown Detroit.  They rallied at the New Center One Building, the Fisher Building and Albert Kahn.

“We want a Detroit that is thriving and successful for everyone,” SEIU Local 1 Michigan State Coordinator Jennifer Disla said. “Workers must have a place at the table in Detroit’s rebuilding.”

These janitors, whose contract for 1,450 janitors in Southeast Michigan (Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties) expires on July 31st, clean buildings of major corporations and public facilities like Detroit Public Schools. The average downtown janitor is paid a little over $24,000 a year, and many receive public assistance. Some are considered “very low income” according to Federal HUD income limits.

“When people ask what does a union mean to you? I say that the union means having a future,” Janitor Niya Reed said. “I love Detroit. I want my kids to have a Detroit as Detroit should be, and the way to do that is raise wages for workers like me.”

Today’s rally was the first in a series of demonstrations that will highlight the needs for good jobs as Detroit moves forward in its rebuilding. Janitors in Detroit are joining nearly 131,820 SEIU janitors in cities across the country — janitors from Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York — whose union contracts also expire in 2015 and 2016. Detroit janitors’ negotiations begin in June.

BACKGROUND: SEIU Local 1 commercial janitors are covered by the Master Agreement and clean a wide variety of facilities in the Metro Detroit Region including prominent office buildings, factories, government facilities, the airport, and even some Detroit Public Schools. Among the buildings served by Local 1 janitors are:  the Ally Detroit Center, First National Building, Compuware, the Renaissance Center, Ford World Headquarters, Comerica Bank (411 Building), Detroit Edison Plaza, DTE Energy Building,  Wayne County’s Guardian Building and Southfield Town Center. Their contract expires on July 31st, 2015.

 

Comments Off on 200 SEIU LOCAL 1 JANITORS RALLIED DOWNTOWN DETROIT FOR GOOD JOBS

3 takeaways from $15 minimum wage rallies, fast-food strikes

DSC_4744.JPG

About 300 people participated in a march and rally Wednesday calling for a $15 minimum wage. The Cleveland rally was among more than 200 that took place nationally, as part of the Fight for 15 campaign. In this photo, demonstrators march along Euclid Avenue, near Cleveland State University. (photo courtesy SEIU District 1199)
Olivera Perkins, The Plain Dealer By Olivera Perkins, The Plain Dealer
on April 16, 2015 at 9:50 AM, updated April 16, 2015 at 11:09 AM

 CLEVELAND, Ohio – The rally was over, but somehow it felt like a beginning.

The demonstrators, numbering nearly 300, marched along the sidewalks of Euclid Avenue as evening rush hour traffic crawled by. Even though most had walked a mile to the event, which supported increasing the minimum wage to $15, many still had pep in their step for the return trip home.

They chanted with conviction: “I believe that we will win!” An African drum accompanied them as left the rally that had been in front of Cleveland State University. Some demonstrators held signs such as: “Poverty-Wage Jobs HOLD CLEVELAND BACK.”

Cleveland was one of more than 200 cities Wednesday where people had rallies, candlelight vigils, engaged in fast-food strikes and other actions as part of the Fight for 15 campaign, which is part of Service Employees International Union.

“This isn’t the end,” said Al Bacon, secretary/treasurer of SEIU District 1199, the rally’s last speaker. “This is a giant step forward.”

In many ways it was. The event was notable because of the number of people who participated locally and because it was the largest national action to date by Fight for 15. The event also stood out because of the cross-section of participants.

Demonstrators had taken different roads to the rally. This could be viewed as a literal statement. The home care workers had begun their march from the SEIU union hall on East 30th Street. The adjunct professors had left from the Cuyahoga Community College Metro campus.

Taking different paths, but ending up in the same place was also symbolic. While some held PhDs and others only GEDs, they all complained of earning less than $15 an hour. The median hourly wage for home care workers is about $9.60, according to Labor Department data. Adjunct professors nationally make about $2,700 per class per semester, according to SEIU. Many adjuncts say that when one considers the non-teaching duties, most of them make less than $15 an hour. The union, which represents many home care workers, is also organizing adjuncts nationally.

In Cleveland, as nationally, this was the first raise-the-minimum-wage rally representing an array of occupations. For many of the demonstrators, this was an indication that the struggle of low-wage workers was not fleeting – something only capable of grabbing headlines with actions — such as one-day strikes by fast-food or Walmart workers — and then being forgotten. For many of them, the scope and size of the tax day actions were proof that struggles of low-wage workers, highlighted with the first fast-food strikes 2 ½ years ago, were expanding and maturing. It was, by most measures, a movement.

“It is significant because it represents workers in general, not just a specific type of worker, coming together,” said Yanela Sims, Northern Ohio coordinator for SEIU Local 1, of Wednesday’s demonstrations. “If workers don’t stand together, we will all crumble.

It is a strong workers’ movement, and it is really exciting for our city.”

Sandra Ellington, a janitor at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, said she found a sense of power in marching and rallying with workers from various occupations.

“The working-class Americans are sticking together and they are saying, ‘Enough is enough,'” she said. “No matter who you are, no matter what you do, we are all valued and valuable. It is important that we keep this fight moving forward.”

When Walmart recently announced it would raise its minimum wage to $10 by next year and McDonald’s said it would raise its minimum wage to $9.90 at its corporate-run restaurants this summer, many wondered if such developments would take the steam out of the low-wage workers’ movement. After all, protesters had gotten at least some of what they were looking for.

Harriet Applegate, who heads the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor, said bigger victories are yet to come. She said it was significant that nearly 300 participated in the Cleveland rally.

“It symbolizes that there is a huge need for people to make a living wage,” she said. “It is long overdue. People can’t live a decent life. It is a terrible thing.

“I think this is the beginning of a wave that will bring about change,” Applegate said of the low-wage workers’ movement.

Three Takeaways from the $15 Minimum Wage Rallies, Fast-food Strikes, etc.

1. The low-wage workers’ movement is expanding in scope – Wednesday’s protests included participants from several occupations, including: adjunct professors, home care workers, child care workers, airport workers, industrial laundry workers, Walmart and other retail workers. College students also participated. In Cleveland, students from CSU, Kent State University, Oberlin College and Tri-C participated.

David Wilder, an art and art history adjunct who teaches at Cuyahoga Community College and John Carroll University, said the efforts of fast food and retail workers for better pay had motivated him to do the same for adjuncts. Wilder said he is helping to organize adjuncts at John Carroll.

He said he is among those pushing to get John Carroll to adopt the Jesuit Just Employment Policy, which among other things, Wilder said calls for “a living wage” and the right to join a union. He said the adjuncts turned in a 200-signature petition to the university Tuesday. John Carroll did not respond to The Plain Dealer’s requests regarding the matter.

2. Opponents of the $15 minimum wage are increasing their efforts – Seeing the impact of many of the low-wage workers’ actions, some groups opposed to raising the minimum wage have increased their efforts. For example, a day before the tax day protests, the Washington, D.C.-based Employment Policies Institute, which opposes unions, launched facesof15.com. The group says the website “chronicles the real stories of small businesses and how they’ve adapted to drastic minimum wage hikes.”

3. Low-wage workers’ protests fuel research – Think tanks, advocacy organizations and universities often release analyses or reports in the days leading up to national low-wage workers’ demonstrations.

Among those recently released is an analysis of government data by the National Employment Law Project, which showed that half of the 10 occupations expected to grow the most by 2022 will have median hourly wages below $12. These jobs include: personal care aides, retail sales clerks, home health aides, food prep and serving workers (including fast food) and janitors and cleaners.

report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United found that nearly half the families of full-service restaurant workers are enrolled in one or more public-assistance programs. The reports said these subsidies amount to more than $9.4 billion a year.

Follow @OPinfo

 http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2015/04/3_takeaways_from_15_minimum_wa_1.html

© 2015 cleveland.com. All rights reserved.

Comments Off on 3 takeaways from $15 minimum wage rallies, fast-food strikes

Chicago Janitors, Building Owners and Cleaning Companies Invest in Good Jobs and Help Grow Our Economy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2015

Janitors Approve Contract Agreement Benefiting Both their Families and Communities; Narrow Wage Gap between Downtown and the Suburbs

CHICAGO –By an overwhelming margin, Chicagoland SEIU Local 1 janitors approved a new union contract that preserves their ability to support their families and allows them access to health care. As part of this settlement with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and suburban contractors, nearly 10,000 janitors and their families won wage increases and protected fully employer-paid healthcare over the next three years. The janitors were also able to narrow the suburban- downtown wage gap.

“These economic gains will directly benefit our region’s economy for years to come, helping hardworking families build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Tom Balanoff, President of SEIU Local 1. “Local 1 is leading the way for all working people – when you stand up together and bargain collectively, we all win.”

The new three year janitors’ union contract, which goes into effect April 6th, guarantees:

  • Annual wage increases for janitors, which will allow them to build a better future by supporting their families in the midst of increasing cost of living in the Chicago area.
  • Protection of quality, family health insurance. The janitors plan provides comprehensive coverage for janitors and their families at half of the cost of the average family health plan in Illinois.
  • Stronger contract, which gives part time members stronger seniority rights.

Nearly 2,000 janitors are still working to get their contracts settled. Chicago Public Schools and other publicly funded facilities have traditionally followed these area standards set by BOMA and the Local 1 janitors, but there is no guarantee.

“We are celebrating great progress today, but we are just getting started,” said Paula Henriquez, a janitor with Chicago Public Schools. “Now we are calling on Cook County and the City of Chicago to adopt the wage and benefit standards for janitors at Chicago Public Schools, the airports, and all publicly funded facilities set by SEIU Local 1 janitors, business leaders and BOMA.”

 ###

 SEIU Local 1 unites nearly 50,000 property service workers in the Midwest, including janitors, security officers and residential doormen. Together we work to build strength for all working people, on the job and in our communities.

Comments Off on Chicago Janitors, Building Owners and Cleaning Companies Invest in Good Jobs and Help Grow Our Economy

10,000 Chicagoland Janitors Win Raises, Protect Healthcare

RaiseAmerica Chicago VIdeo ScreenshotIn a historic settlement with Chicago’s Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and suburban contractors, nearly 10,000 janitors and their families won wage increases and protected fully employer-paid family healthcare over the next three years. This contract narrows the wage gap between downtown and suburban janitors—ensuring a better future for all of Chicagoland’s working families.

“These economic gains will directly benefit our region’s economy for years to come, helping hardworking families build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Tom Balanoff, President of SEIU Local 1. “SEIU Local 1 is leading the way for all working people – when workers stand up together and bargain collectively, we all win.”

SEIU Local 1 janitors came out in record numbers and stuck together with workers across the country to secure this victory. The fight for good jobs continues. Corporations like BMO Harris Bank continue to pay their contracted janitors poverty wages with no benefits. And more than 3,000 Chicago-area janitors are still working to get their contracts settled. Chicago Public Schools and other publicly funded facilities have traditionally followed these area standards set by BOMA and the SEIU Local 1 janitors, but there is no guarantee.

“We are celebrating great progress today, but we are just getting started,” said Paula Henriquez, a janitor with Chicago Public Schools. “Now we are calling on Cook County and the City of Chicago to adopt the wage and benefit standards for janitors at Chicago Public Schools, police stations, parks, and all publicly funded facilities set by SEIU Local 1 janitors, business leaders and BOMA.”

Comments Off on 10,000 Chicagoland Janitors Win Raises, Protect Healthcare

BREAKING: Janitor Rally at BMO Headquarters for Good Jobs Prompts Act of Civil Disobedience as Janitors Block Financial District Intersection; 20 Arrested

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday April 2, 2015

CHICAGO – In an act of civil disobedience that harkens back to the civil rights movement, 20 SEIU Local 1 janitors and supporters risked arrest today at BMO Harris Bank to protest BMO’s poor treatment of its contract employees, which is deepening the divide between the richest 1% and the rest of working America. The janitors rallied with the support of faith leaders and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle outside of BMO Harris Bank to call on the wealthy corporation to do right by the hardworking janitors who clean their downtown Chicago and suburban offices by providing them with decent wages and benefits.

“The BMO janitors’ struggle is an example of what’s wrong with our economy. But this problem is solvable—there is a clear road map for what we need to change,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “Instead of driving workers deeper into poverty, our country needs good jobs that build working families up and raise standards for all workers.”

Janitors who clean BMO’s Naperville offices perform the same job as the union janitors at the headquarters in Chicago, but are paid significantly less and have no benefits. BMO Financial Group made $4.3 billion in profits in 2014. In fact, BMO makes enough profit every six minutes to raise all 10 Naperville janitors to $15 an hour with employer paid family health insurance for an entire year.

“On this Holy Day, when we recall Jesus celebrating Passover and washing the feet of his disciples, we know that those who serve us by keeping our surroundings clean and healthy, must also be honored for their dignity and worth,” said Rev. C.J. Hawking, Exec Director of Arise Chicago and one of those arrested. “These workers deserve a just contract, regardless of where they serve.”

Those arrested today include faith leaders as well as well as janitors who are bargaining for a new contract that expires in three days. Chicagoland union janitors are uniting with BMO janitors to help raise the floor for all working families.

Throughout our history as a nation, people of good will have courageously and nonviolently engaged in protest and civil disobedience to stand up for civil liberties—including the Boston Tea Party, Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad, and the fight for women to gain the right to vote.

 

###

BACKGROUND: Contracts that impact the livelihood of 12,000 SEIU Local 1 members and their families expire on April 5, 2015. These janitors are joining more than 130,000 SEIU janitors in cities across the country—janitors from Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York—whose union contracts also expire in 2015 and 2016. Chicago is the first city in the country to negotiate.

Comments Off on BREAKING: Janitor Rally at BMO Headquarters for Good Jobs Prompts Act of Civil Disobedience as Janitors Block Financial District Intersection; 20 Arrested

SEIU Illinois State Council Endorses Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Mayor

Major Labor Union Representing More than 150,000 in Illinois Calls Garcia the Clear Choice for Working Families

CHICAGO – Leading the fight against income inequality, the SEIU Illinois State Council today announced its endorsement of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the 2015 Mayoral Election.

“This election presents a clear choice between Rahm Emanuel who turned his back on Chicago’s hard working families by eliminating or outsourcing good jobs to companies that slash wages and benefits and Jesus Chuy Garcia a long time progressive champion and ally of all workers,” said Tom Balanoff, SEIU Illinois State Council President. “SEIU is going to make sure that Chicago’s working families have a say in this election. We know we can’t match the tens of millions of dollars that Rahm’s billionaire friends are funneling into his campaign, but we can make sure that working families have a voice through Chuy Garcia’s campaign. We look forward to working with our friend Chuy Garcia to champion the needs of working families by restoring balance, reviving neighborhoods and building an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”

“Chuy Garcia is the candidate who will best represent the interests and values of working families in our great city,” said April Verrett SEIU HCII Executive Vice President. “His track record of doing so goes back to his stand with the late Mayor Harold Washington and has continued throughout his political career. Chicago is in need of clear direction that empowers working families, not one that continues to put the burden on the backs of families who are struggling to make ends meet as Rahm Emmanuel has done. In Chuy Garcia, we will have a mayor whose first concern will be in the interest of working families.”

“The clear choice for Chicago’s working families in the upcoming election is between a future with Chuy Garcia in which all of us have access to a quality standard of living, or one with Rahm Emanuel in which workers are taken advantage of by special interests and Rahm’s rich friends,” said Ewa Miklewicz, SEIU Local 1 Janitor. “While Rahm Emanuel’s buddies are thriving in our city, we are faced with tripled water fees and scammed by the red light and speed cameras Emanuel enforced. That’s why SEIU is proud to endorse Chuy Garcia, a man on our side who will fight for the working families of our city.”

Representing more than 150,000 workers, the SEIU Illinois Council rallies behind candidates who have demonstrated a strong record on issues important to all working families. The SEIU Illinois Council represents workers including home care and child care providers, security officers, janitors, as well as public employees, medical professionals, first responders and social service workers. SEIU members are winning better wages, health care, and more secure jobs, while ensuring that workers, not just corporations and CEOs, benefit from today’s economy.

Comments Off on SEIU Illinois State Council Endorses Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Mayor

Rauner reveals face he tried to hide from voters — the anti-union ideologue one

Chicago Sun Times

By: Mark Brown

http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/356874/rauner-takes-mask-fires-away

And so it begins.

Gov. Bruce Rauner fired his first shot Monday in his campaign to give all Illinois workers the right to choose to work for less money.

Rauner’s legally dubious executive order relieving state employees of the requirement they pay union dues was a loud declaration the new governor aims to restore Illinois to prosperity — by undercutting the organizing power of its work force.

The governor’s initial targeting of public employee unions was no surprise given his election rhetoric, but his use of an executive order to impose his willseemed to catch everyone off guard.

“I did not see him going this far,” admitted Tom Balanoff, president of SEIU Illinois Council, who said Rauner “knows this is not legal.”

It took AFSCME Council 31 more than an hour to come up with a response before calling Rauner’s move a “blatantly illegal abuse of power.”

I think a lot of people expected Rauner to move back to the middle after the election so he could govern as a pragmatic and moderate businessman. Now it’s becoming plain he’s an ideologue who could end up making noted union antagonist Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker look like the late-labor leader George Meany.

My first thought upon learning of Rauner’s move was of Fort Sumter and the cannon shot that signaled the beginning of the Civil War, not to suggest anything so momentous.

My second thought was of my grandfather, a railroad worker who was shot and wounded by company thugs who fired on a group of union pickets in the central Illinois railroad wars 69 years ago this month. Yes, I have a visceral reaction to this stuff.

I completely understand that Illinois voters were looking to make some changes when they elected Rauner as governor, and many of them would like to give the wealthy businessman an opportunity to try things his way for a while.

But in rejecting what they saw as failed Democratic rule, it’s hard to believe they were also buying into Rauner’s emerging concept of what it takes to make Illinois more competitive.

It does raise an interesting question: Are people gullible enough to think this is really about a worker’s right to choose whether they pay dues to a union, as Rauner claims?

Or can they see through the baloney to understand that Rauner’s idea of what would make Illinois workers more competitive with other states is lower wages and benefits.

What else does more competitive mean to Rauner? It sure doesn’t mean he wants our workers to run faster and jump higher.

I read last summer’s Supreme Court decision on which Rauner is hanging his hat, and it specifically did NOT overturn court precedents that make it legal to assess so-called “fair share fees to public employees who don’t want to join the union.

As I wrote at the time, it certainly looks as if some members of the court, possibly a majority, are itching for the opportunity to do just that. But for now, that’s not the state of the law, or the law of this state.

Nobody, though, should have been too surprised by Rauner’s move.

Even before the election, I told you about a speech he gave back in 2013 to the Wauconda Township Republican Club at which he foreshadowed his plans.

In response to a question, Rauner went off on one of his then common rants about “government union bosses and the trial lawyers,” an approach he tried to downplay during the general election campaign.

“They’ve got us by the throats and I’m going to do . . . ” Rauner said before interrupting himself.

“Some of this I’m not going to talk about publicly,” he confided. “This is probably going to go out on YouTube.”

Rauner went on to reveal just a little. He said he was going to use executive orders to “take on” government unions. But he didn’t want to talk about it just then given the possibility that everyone would see him on YouTube — for who he is.

It’s like I told you before: Rauner has big plans for Illinois, and he’d let us know all about them after the election.

I’m wondering what other secret plans Rauner has up his sleeve. I’m reminded of other speeches where he talked about spoiling for a possible strike from state workers — and replacing them a la Ronald Reagan and the air traffic controllers.

If private-sector union members are thinking this is the public employee unions’ problem, then they are going to be in for a rude awakening. The same goes for non-union workers who think this is a union problem.

Comments Off on Rauner reveals face he tried to hide from voters — the anti-union ideologue one