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St. Louis workers, elected officials, business owners back drive for statewide minimum wage increase

The Missouri Legislature and Gov. Eric Greitens’ heartless rollback of St. Louis’ $10/hour minimum wage took effect last month, but local elected officials, business owners and workers’ advocates are hoping to override state lawmakers at the ballot box.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger joined activists, workers and Democratic legislators on Aug. 28, the same day the state’s wage rollback legislation took effect, to rally support for a ballot initiative to implement a $12/hour minimum wage statewide — up from the current $7.70/hour – with voters having the final say.

Krewson and Stenger joined cooks, cashiers, janitors, nursing home workers, home health aides, city aldermen, faith leaders, small business owners and activists in a rally at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company in The Grove neighborhood to announce their plans to resist the state law – which Greitens allowed to take effect without his signature – nullifying St. Louis’ $10/hour minimum wage and blocking a voter approved increase in Kansas City.

“Raising the minimum wage is really about strengthening families,” Stenger said. “I come from a working family and I know that improving incomes across Missouri will help workers better care for their children and loved ones.”

RAISE UP MISSOURI

Stenger, Krewson, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece and Kansas City Mayor Sly James and other elected leaders have endorsed a grassroots effort led by Raise Up Missouri to collect the signatures required to place a statewide $12/hour minimum wage initiative on the Nov. 2018 ballot. If approved by voters, the measure would gradually raise the statewide minimum wage by 85 cents a year until it reaches $12/hour in 2023, impacting about 500,000 workers – or one in five Missourians. 

Workers will need approximately 100,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

“More money in workers’ pockets means more money in businesses’ pockets,” Krewson said. “That’s what drives the economy forward.”

#SAVETHERAISE

Workers and their allies also vowed a renewed push to convince employers to raise – not lower – the pay for working people in St. Louis. So far, 135 St. Louis employers have taken the pledge to #SaveTheRaise and continue paying the $10 minimum wage in the city, despite the state’s heartless rollback.

“In this community, we know that working people’s wages should go up, not down,” said Rev. Jon Stratton of Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis. “That’s why 135 mom and pop shops in this city have already pledged to keep the $10 minimum wage. Now we’re going to join workers in protest of big corporations cutting pay, and work together to put a $12 statewide minimum wage on the ballot in 2018. We won’t be dragged down by politicians in Jefferson City. Instead, we’re going to raise up this city and this state.”

Low-wage workers, elected officials, faith leaders and St. Louis business owners joined forces to launch the #SavetheRaise campaign in June after Gov. Greitens allowed the law nullifying the St. Louis and Kansas City minimum wage to become law. Since the campaign’s launch, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, pet stores and the Treasurer’s Office of the City of St. Louis all have  joined in the effort, pledging to pay their employees $10 an hour or better.

“As a St. Louis-based company, the success of our business depends greatly on the growth of our city so raising wages for working families is important to us,” said Florian Kuplent, co-founder and brewmaster of Urban Chestnut.

“By investing in our people, we are investing in the revitalization of the St. Louis community, and that’s good for our business and ultimately for St. Louis.”

Despite the success of the #SaveTheRaise campaign, many workers at big chains like McDonald’s and local companies like Schnucks Markets received a pay cut Aug. 28.

Workers waged increasingly militant protests across the city as rollback neared.

St. Louis workers sat in and refused to leave two McDonald’s stores where workers had been told their pay would drop.

In Kansas City, workers held a “die-in,” laying down en masse at the doorstep of the offices of fast-food lobbyists at the Missouri Restaurant Association, which lobbied hard for the rollback of local wage hikes.

UNIONS ARE THE KEY

McDonald’s and other fast-food workers also held staged a protest in St. Louis on Labor Day, kicking off a massive protest campaign that included underpaid workers across the city’s service-sector economy seeking $15 an hour and union rights.

The St. Louis Labor Day protest was one of 300 across the country, as workers across America declared loudly that unions are the key to fixing an economy that is rigged to favor the wealthy.

Wanda Rogers, a McDonald’s worker and Fight for $15 member whose pay dropped to $7.70 an hour last week, said: “Eric Greitens and Jefferson City Republicans may be trying to cut our pay and rig the economy for big corporations, but we won’t back down or stop for one second in our fight.”

Read more over at the St. Louis Labor Tribune!

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8,000 Airport Workers in Chicago Just Won a Wage Raise and the Right to a Union

CHICAGO—Eight thousand workers at Chicago’s two airports have scored a major victory in their two-year campaign for higher wages and a union.

On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring private contractors—who employ O’Hare and Midway’s baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, janitors, security officers, ticket collectors and de-icers—to abide by new labor standards in order to be licensed by the city. Most employees of airport contractors make low wages, receive few benefits and lack job security.

The ordinance will require contractors to pay a minimum wage of $13.45 starting July 1, 2018, well above Chicago’s current minimum of $11 an hour. Though the Illinois General Assembly recently passed a bill that would have raised the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it last month.

“I’m a single mom with three kids and two grandkids. This raise will help contribute to supporting my family,” Darlene Navarro Montañez, an O’Hare janitor employed by the contractor Scrubs, told In These Times through an interpreter. “Eleven dollars an hour is just not enough.”

“With the raise, besides helping my family more, I could put bigger payments into paying back my student debt,” said Danny Rodriguez, a 24-year-old wheelchair attendant, security officer and shift lead at O’Hare.

The new law also stipulates that contractors must enter into “labor peace agreements” with any union seeking to organize their employees. Under such an agreement, the employer must remain neutral during a union organizing drive and certification election. In return, the union promises not to engage in “economically disruptive” actions like strikes and boycotts. By prohibiting employer interference, such agreements dramatically improve the likelihood of unionization.

“The next step is getting the union,” said Navarro Montañez, 37, who came to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico in search of a better life. “I want to see the company and the airport respect the employees.”

With a union contract, one of Rodriguez’s first priorities would be to get his employer, Prospect, to allow paid time off for family emergencies. Under the employer’s current policy, he fears getting fired whenever he has to miss work unexpectedly to look after his elderly grandmother, who requires 24-hour care.

“I have to risk losing my job for being a responsible grandson,” Rodriguez said. “[Prospect’s policy] needs to be reworked to make sure it’s fairer for everyone. Not just for me taking care of my grandma, but other people who are parents or guardians.”

The workers will likely seek to join SEIU Local 1. Since September 2015, Local 1 has led the efforts that resulted in this week’s ordinance, as part of SEIU’s national Airport Workers United and Fight for $15 campaigns.

“Even though we won this ordinance, this fight is not over,” Rodriguez insisted. “We’re going to keep fighting for what needs to be done. Once we finally get this union and get this contract, then I could say we finally had our voice heard.”

Read the full story, including interviews with airport workers, over at In These Times!

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$13.45-an-hour wage cleared for takeoff at O’Hare, Midway airports

Oliwia Pac is in line for a $2.45-an-hour pay raise, but she feels like she won the lottery.

On Wednesday, the City Council guaranteed Pac and nearly 8,000 other contract employees at O’Hare and Midway Airports a pay floor of “no less than” $13.45-an-hour and secured their right to join unions.

“This raise means that I can finally afford my rent, get groceries, not have a hassle trying to pay off my student loans,” said Pac, who helps passengers in wheelchairs, escorts children traveling alone onto flights and works security at O’Hare Airport.

“It could be better. But this is a very big step that has occurred for us as airport workers. I’m just beyond ecstatic. We’re slowly but surely winning.”

Higher pay is not the only benefit for contract employees at O’Hare and Midway. The ordinance unanimously approved Wednesday also includes a “labor peace agreement” allowing baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, aircraft maintenance workers, security guards and other contract employees to organize without interference.

In exchange, contract employees would be prohibited from “engaging in strikes, picketing, work stoppages, boycotts or other economic interference.”

Pac said she has little doubt she and her co-workers will vote overwhelmingly to join a union.

“They’re the ones that are gonna help us be able to make proper wages, getting proper benefits, being able to get respect,” she said. “We have to report our tips. If we don’t report our tips enough, we are threatened with suspensions and terminations. There’s a lot of under-staffing. We have to break our backs by assisting two wheelchair passengers at once.”

Last month, Emanuel followed through on his promise to tie licenses for airport contractors to a “labor peace agreement.”

But the mayor’s ordinance goes beyond preserving the right to unionize. It requires those airline contractors and sub-contractors to pay their employees no less than $13.45-an-hour beginning on July 1, 2018, with annual cost-of-living increases after that. Employees whose wages include gratuities must be paid $1-an-hour more than the $5.95-an-hour minimum wage for tipped employees.

Tom Balanoff, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, called the mayor’s ordinance one of the biggest victories for organized labor to come along in years.

SEIU Local 1 is among a group of investors that recently purchased the Sun-Times. The union has been attempting to organize contract employees at O’Hare.

Balanoff said he has no doubt that most, if not all of the 8,000 workers will choose to join unions, including his.

Airlines for America has argued that there is “no legal or policy justification for imposing a higher minimum wage on a few thousand workers who provide services to one industry at two locations” and the city’s “status as an airport operator/proprietor does not give it authority to regulate private labor relations.”

But Deputy Corporation Counsel Diane Pezanoski has assured aldermen the ordinance is on solid legal ground because it “comes pretty much directly from a licensing and training program in Los Angeles” that was challenged unsuccessfully by the airlines and service providers at Los Angeles International Airport.

Check out the full story over at The Chicago Sun-Times!

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City Council approves law boosting pay, easing unionization for airport workers

The Chicago City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Wednesday that will give airport baggage handlers, janitors and other contracted workers a pay bump and make it easier for them to form a union.

The law, expected to affect 8,000 workers, requires airline subcontractors to abide by certain labor standards in order to receive a license to operate at O’Hare and Midway airports.

Starting July 1 of next year, companies must pay workers at least $13.45 an hour and establish labor peace agreements with any union trying to organize the workers. That means the union agrees not to strike or protest and the employer agrees not to resist the organizing efforts, which historically has led to more successful union elections.

Tipped workers, such as wheelchair attendants, must be paid $1 more than Chicago’s tipped minimum wage.

Airlines for America, an advocacy group for the airlines that hire many of the subcontractors, opposed the measure. It argued that the measure violates federal labor law by forcing a private employer into an agreement with a union that employees have not yet elected to join and that certain industries shouldn’t be subject to a higher minimum wage.

The ordinance, which was introduced in late July by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and backed by members of the Black, Latino and Progressive caucuses, is modeled after a similar law in Los Angeles that requires labor peace agreements and has so far survived a legal challenge.

The passage of the measure comes after a two-year campaign by the Service Employees International Union to highlight the pay and working conditions of Chicago’s nonunionized airport workers, who it seeks to add to its member rolls.

“It’s a win-win-win-win for airport workers, passengers, the city and the airlines,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff, whose union organized several protests and strikes to pressure lawmakers. “It’s going to start a process to make a better life for the workers here and make a safer, cleaner, more convenient airport for the passengers and help Chicago start to lift up all of our communities.”

The law covers baggage handlers, aircraft cabin cleaners, janitors, security officers, ticket-takers, de-icers and wheelchair attendants, among other workers.

Be sure to check out the full story over at the Chicago Tribune!

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Chicago set to raise airport workers’ pay, clear path to a union

Edith Alvarenga has spent the past 12 years picking up trash, sweeping up crumbs and mopping up spills — and occasional bodily fluids — that passengers leave behind on airplanes. And she loves it.

She loves that nearly everyone at O’Hare Airport knows her. She loves helping passengers, especially Spanish-speaking travelers, when they aren’t sure where to go. She loves seeing people arriving and departing, which makes her feel like she is traveling herself.

What Alvarenga says she doesn’t love about her job as a cabin cleaner in Terminal 3 is that she gets no benefits, that her $11.50 hourly wage is barely enough to make ends meet and that workers are sometimes treated unfairly.

So she is excited for Wednesday, when the Chicago City Council is expected to approve an ordinance that would boost the wages of O’Hare and Midway airport workers and clear the path for them to unionize.

“When we don’t like something, the best thing is to fight to make it better,” Alvarenga, a native of El Salvador, said in Spanish. “I like the work and I want to make this job better.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced the ordinance in late July after a two-year campaign by the Service Employees International Union to hold the city accountable for the pay and working conditions of airline subcontractors, part of a national push by the union as it seeks to add airport workers to its rolls.

Chicago’s ordinance makes labor standards part of the requirements for obtaining a license to provide services at O’Hare and Midway airports. It covers nearly 8,000 workers employed by contractors hired by the airlines, including baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, janitors, security officers, ticket-takers, de-icers and wheelchair attendants.

The ordinance states licensed contractors must pay workers at least $13.45 an hour starting next July 1, and raise the wage in proportion to the consumer price index every subsequent year. That gives them a leg up over Chicago’s minimum wage, which recently was raised to $11 an hour as the city gradually steps toward $13 by 2019.

Tipped workers like wheelchair attendants would get $1 more than the city’s tipped minimum wage, which currently is $5.95.

Contractors also would have to establish “labor peace agreements” with any union that asks, which means that the union would agree not to picket or call strikes and the company would agree not to resist organizing efforts. Such agreements don’t require an employer to recognize a union or enter into a collective bargaining agreement, but they can smooth the path to a union election.

“It certainly makes it easier to organize workers if they aren’t feeling threatened,” said Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich, spokeswoman for SEIU Local 1, which was behind several strikes and protests at O’Hare over the last two years.

The ordinance is opposed by Airlines for America, an airline advocacy group that counts United and American Airlines among its members. In a letter to Chicago’s Department of Aviation, the group argued that the labor peace provision violates federal labor law and is “ambiguous, internally inconsistent, and provides virtually no guidance regarding implementation.” In addition, “there is no policy or economic justification for establishing a separate minimum wage for just one small group of private sector employees working for one industry at two locations in the city.”

Other airports abide by airport-specific compensation requirements, including San Francisco; Seattle; Minneapolis; LaGuardia and JFK in New York; and Newark, N.J. Chicago modeled its ordinance after Los Angeles’ airport law, which contains a labor peace provision, because it withstood a legal challenge, SEIU said.

“This is about ensuring the highest standard and most efficient operations at Midway and O’Hare,” the mayor’s office said in a statement Thursday.

It is also about politics as SEIU, the massive union behind the Fight for $15 campaign, appeals to elected officials to advance worker interests and reach the growing segment of low-wage workers it would like to convert into members.

“They are using political maneuvering to gain access to a new labor market,” said Bob Bruno, labor professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. SEIU says 110,000 airport workers have won raises since it began its national airport campaign in 2012, and 22,000 have joined an SEIU union.

Emanuel’s ordinance came as another proposal to lift wages for airport workers, introduced in January, stalled in committee. Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th, in late June threatened to invoke a rule that would force that ordinance to the full Council for a vote, where he believed it had enough support to pass even without the mayor’s blessing. The next day SEIU issued a press release announcing it was having positive discussions with the mayor’s administration and Ald. Patrick O’Connor, 40th, chairman of the Workforce Development and Audit Committee, on legislation.

The Workforce and Aviation committees approved the mayor’s ordinance swiftly last week.

Pawar, a Democratic candidate for governor, said the issue is personal to him. His first internship while in graduate school involved working with refugees, many of whom worked at the airport, and he heard from them about low pay and alleged abuses such as wage theft.

“I told myself that if I was ever in a position to do something about this, I would,” said Pawar, who last year supported the union as it announced it had filed 80 complaints accusing O’Hare airport contractors of more than $1 million in wage theft, which can occur when people work off the clock or when employers don’t compensate tipped employees whose gratuities don’t get them to standard minimum wage.

“I believe, once this passes, that this will be one of the greatest victories for airport workers in the country,” Pawar said.

If workers unionize and are able to bargain for health benefits, paid leave, performance bonuses and other improvements, it would be a boon to an economy that has seen a decline in decent-paying middle-class jobs, Bruno said.

“They represent the growing sector of our economy, and something has to happen to lift them into the middle class,” he said. “If these workers don’t become middle class, then we will continue to see sluggish growth, we will see wages flatten out, we will have a seriously hollowed-out economy.”

Many airport jobs used to fetch decent middle-class wages and benefits, but that started to change in the 1980s and ’90s as airlines started to outsource the jobs to third-party contractors that paid the lowest wage people were willing to take, said Robert Mann, an airline industry consultant based in New York.

The change was driven by industry deregulation, competitive pressure from low-cost airlines and other economic shocks that prompted airlines to cut costs, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and airline restructurings, Mann said. Between 2002 and 2012, the outsourcing of baggage porter jobs more than tripled, while hourly wages declined by 45 percent, from $19 to $10.60 (in 2012 dollars), according to a report from the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California at Berkeley.

But while contracting out the work saves airlines money, it also leads to higher turnover and service gaps, Mann said.

“If you try to work the ramp in Chicago in the winter, it’s cold, it’s windy, it’s dangerous, especially at night,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to earn money indoors, you take that.”

Alvarenga, the cabin cleaner at O’Hare, said she joined the SEIU effort because her loyalty was not met with the respect she felt she had earned.

Alvarenga, 42, came to Chicago on a fiance visa in 2005 to join her now-husband, Saturnino, who had been her childhood neighbor in El Salvador. She got the job cleaning airplanes that same year after seeing an ad in the newspaper.

She started at minimum wage but earned a 25-cent raise each year, and was making $9.50 an hour when a new cleaning contractor took over in 2010. The new contractor, Prospect Airport Services, told the workers their wages would be reduced to $9, and that if they didn’t want it they could quit, she said. Most people stayed, she said, because they needed the paycheck and worried they might not find something else.

“It made me furious,” Alvarenga said, noting that her wage has risen to $11.50 not because of raises, but because the city raised its minimum wage.

Des Plaines-based Prospect Airport Services did not respond to a request for comment.

“I think what we need most is a union that sees the injustices and stops the abuses, more than anything against the Hispanics,” Alvarenga said, “because the Hispanics are those that are most discriminated against, and if they don’t speak English it’s worse.”

As she sat in her living room on Chicago’s Northwest Side, Alvarenga said she has dreamed of what she will do with the higher wage once the city approves the ordinance. She and her husband live with two of their three children and a yappy Chihuahua mix named Pepito in a tidy home on an otherwise industrial street, beside a parking lot for city garbage trucks.

Her first priority is to establish a savings account for her new baby, due to arrive this month, and help her other three other children — aged 21, 18 and 16 — go to good colleges.

“That’s the best inheritance I can give them, so they can get a career that allows them to support themselves,” she said.

She also wants to get on an airplane herself and take a vacation for the first time in four years. She plans to go to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Check out the full story over at The Chicago Tribune!

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From Fighting for $15 to Blocking Right to Work, Striking Missouri Workers Are Challenging the GOP

KANSAS CITY, MO.—Bill Thompson, 46, grew up believing in the American Dream. When he graduated from college in 1995 with an engineering degree, he assumed he would have no trouble covering his bills along with the middle-class niceties his father, a postal clerk and member of the American Postal Workers Union, was able to provide to his family growing up.

Thompson was hired by a local engineering firm out of college, but his training was soon rendered obsolete by new technologies and he lost his job. With $46,000 in student debt and two young children to support, he was in need of a job—any job. So, he turned to fast food.

Thompson made $8.50 an hour at his first job in the industry, working at a now defunct chain of buffets. That was 1997. Today, he makes $9.10 as a cook at a Burger King just outside the city limits.

“$9.10 an hour isn’t enough to pay my bills,” he says. “The last time I saw a doctor was when I was 15 years old. My teeth are rotting. I can’t see much anymore. I can’t afford the medical attention I need.”

When asked why he decided to join the movement to raise the minimum wage in Kansas City two years ago, Thompson kept it short. “I’m fighting for my life,” he said.

Yesterday, Thompson and thousands of his fellow low-wage workers in more than 400 cities nationwide went on a one-day strike. Their key demands remain straightforward: a raise and a union.

Five years into the Fight for $15, there’s a new objective in battleground states like Missouri: oust the politicians propagating local anti-union laws. The Service Employees International Union, which backs the Fight for $15, announced in August that it is launching a new campaign to unseat GOP governors and other elected officials who oppose minimum wage increases and union rights.

Kansas City has already won a wage increase once this year: In early August, 69 percent of voters backed a resolution raising the city’s minimum wage to $10 an hour on August 24, and $15 by 2022.

But that raise lasted for just four days. On August 28, a new state law took effect that effectively canceled Kansas City’s wage increase, as well as a similar measures in St. Louis. The law, passed in May by Missouri’s GOP-controlled state legislature, prohibits cities from raising their minimum wages above that of the state minimum of $7.70 an hour. The measure is one of dozens of so-called “pre-emption laws” that GOP-dominated state legislatures have passed in order to block blue cities from pursuing progressive measures like minimum wage hikes and paid sick days.

But labor is fighting on more than one front in Missouri, which in February became the 28th state to pass a so-called right to work law. The battle’s not over yet: In August, a coalition of labor groups, led by the Missouri AFL-CIO, submitted more than 300,000 signatures in an effort to put the anti-union measure up for a vote on the November 2018 ballot.

Immigrant workers, who make an average of $150 a week less than their citizen counterparts, marched yesterday with another threat on their minds: Donald Trump’s looming announcement that he plans to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a work permit program for unauthorized immigrants who arrived to the United States as children.

Maria*, a fast-food worker and unauthorized immigrant, was among those on strike yesterday. She has been in the U.S. for more than 20 years and currently makes $10.20 an hour at Burger King. (She is identified by a pseudonym because of the possibility of retaliation by immigration enforcement officials.) Her son, whom she brought to the U.S. when he was a toddler, has been granted DACA. Maria fears what might happen next. Though she has a great deal on her mind, she says, she wasn’t going to miss out on the day’s protest.

“I’ve been with the movement for three years now, and I’m going to keep fighting until we get what we deserve,” she says. “I’m not going to stop fighting because I am scared. It is this—my fellow workers, marching together, that reminds me that I am not alone, and that we can win.”

Read more about how Missouri workers are fighting back over at In These Times!

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Good businesses, even universities, invest in their employees

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Good businesses, even universities, invest in their employees

If higher education truly wishes to help solve the world’s complex problems, it is essential that all voices get a seat at the table, including those of graduate student workers. At Washington University, we need to do more to ensure graduate student workers don’t have to choose between academic success and personal well-being.

We are “privileged to be here,” we graduate student workers are so often told, and we shouldn’t question issues of compensation if we are truly passionate about the work we do. But as long as Washington University insists that we are students only, graduate student workers receive none of the protections afforded to employees under the law, even while we are compelled to remain in this tenuous position in order to complete our degrees.

While Washington U. is ostensibly committed to its role as a beacon of higher learning in the St. Louis community, it is in fact run as a business — and an incredibly lucrative one, at that. But good businesses invest in their employees. By promoting the well-being of the whole employee, Washington U. stands to benefit from higher graduation rates, better job placement, better academic and teaching work, and a healthier spirit of collaboration between students and their faculty advisers.

I believe a graduate student worker union will offer those protections where the administration has failed to do so, resulting in better conditions for workers and increased productivity across the university.

Meredith Kelling  •  Maplewood

Meredith Kelling is an outstanding, graduate student activist with SEIU Local 1. Her Letter to the Editor appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on August 28th, 2017.

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SEIU Local 1 Endorses Yvette Simpson for Mayor

CINCINNATI – The members of Service Employees International Union Local 1 announced their endorsement of Yvette Simpson, current President Pro Tem of the Cincinnati City Council, for Mayor.

“Yvette Simpson has been a strong supporter of the members of SEIU Local 1 and will ensure all of us have access to a quality standard of living and will work to end the widespread poverty in the city,” said Yanela Sims, SEIU Local 1 Ohio Director. “Having grown up in poverty, she has clearly demonstrated that she understands our needs and will fight with working men and women for economic justice. We were proud to work with her on our contract campaign last year, and she long been a force for good in the city. I know that she will continue to work for all Cincinnatians.”

Councilwoman Simpson was a vocal supporter of the Cincinnati’s janitors and has pledged to make economic justice a priority in her administration.

“I am proud that SEIU Local 1 has endorsed my campaign for Mayor of Cincinnati,” Simpson said. “I am honored to have earned the support of a labor union that works to build strength for all working people, on the job and in our communities. I look forward to continuing to stand with and be a strong advocate for workers and their families in Cincinnati.”

Councilwoman Simpson currently is the Chair of the Human Services, Youth, and Arts committee, and serves on the Budget & Finance, Law and Public Safety, Neighborhoods and Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation committees. Simpson is also a member of the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, as appointed by the City Planning Commission.

“We believe Yvette Simpson the best candidate for Cincinnati Mayor because she has stood with us over her career, always fighting for working families and our neighborhoods,” said Arnita Summerlin, a Cincinnati janitor. “I know she will continue to fight for me, my family and my neighborhood.”

SEIU Local 1 rallies behind candidates who have demonstrated a strong record on issues important to all working families. Local 1 is dedicated to achieving economic justice for all workers; part of that fight is recognizing that no one leads a single-issue life; social and racial justice are crucial in improving the lives of our members and achieving economic fairness in our country.

 # # #

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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SEIU Local 1 Endorses Jeff Johnson for Mayor, Candidates for City Council

CLEVELAND – The members of Service Employees International Union Local 1 announced their endorsement of Jeff Johnson, current member of the Cleveland City Council, for Mayor. Johnson currently represents Ward 10, which includes the South Collinwood, St Clair-Superior, Glenville, Euclid Park and Nottingham Village neighborhoods. Additionally, Local 1 endorsed Joe Jones (Ward 1); Carol Ford (Ward 2); Gail Sparks (Ward 4); Richard Starr (Ward 5); Mansfield Frazier (Ward 7); Anthony Hairston (Ward 10); Michele Burk (Ward 13); and Alex Karrfalt (Ward 15).

“The clear choice for Cleveland’s working families in the upcoming election is between a future with Jeff Johnson and Local 1 endorsed city council candidates who will ensure all of us have access to a quality standard of living,” said Yanela Sims, SEIU Local 1 Ohio Director. “Working families need to unite around candidates who support our issues and Jeff Johnson is a man on our side who will fight for the working families of our city to ensure our city is growing not only for the rich but for the janitors, security workers and service workers of SEIU Local 1, and all the residents of Cleveland.”

Councilman Johnson was a vocal supporter of the campaign to raise the minimum wage in the city of Cleveland to $15 and has pledged to make the neighborhoods a priority in his administration through more widespread investment. He serves as a member of City Council’s Health & Human Services, Municipal Services & Properties, Transportation, and Workforce & Community Benefits committees.

“We believe Jeff Johnson is the best candidate for Cleveland Mayor because he has stood with our communities for many years, always fighting for working families and our neighborhoods,” said Victoria Thompson, a Cleveland janitor. “I think they will stand up for me, my family and my neighborhood.”

SEIU Local 1 rallies behind candidates who have demonstrated a strong record on issues important to all working families. Local 1 is dedicated to achieving economic justice for all workers; part of that fight is recognizing that no one leads a single-issue life; social and racial justice are crucial in improving the lives of our members and achieving economic fairness in our country.

 # # #

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 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 desiderin@seiu1.org
Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich (708) 655-9681 miltkoi@seiu1.org

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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