Press

Contact: Julia Valentine: 312-233-8789 or valentinej@seiu1.org.

VIDEO! KCPS Launches Program to Help Put an end to bullying [KCTV 5 News]

KCTV5

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - The Kansas City Public School District just launched a new program this week to try to put an end to bullying.

In it, schools will have new rules against it and teachers will go through special training.

While this program is new to the school district, one woman who works there has already been working to stop bullies in their tracks.

Desiree Saunders’ kitchen at the cafeteria at Northeast High School is a bully-free zone. Bullying isn’t tolerated by Saunders and her campaign is changing attitudes for students throughout the school.

“Because you get a lot more bees with honey,” she said.

The bees Saunders is talking about are troubled students. Respect is her honey.

“I care. A lot of these students go through a lot. They’re paying bills at home. These are the only two meals a student gets a day,” she said.

Saunders calls every student by their first name and, in return, they lovingly call her Miss D.

“Some of the students here, believe it or not, they just want to interact, they just want you to say something to them, show that you do care,” she said.

The lunch lady’s caring approach is to curb bullying at Northeast High School.

“Students being bullied for their food, being bullied for money. I’ve seen students in here writing papers for students because they say, ‘Hurry up do my work’. No, we’re not going to do that,” Saunders said.

When the teens walk in, Miss D gets on her microphone and begins her lesson.

“I’ll say, you know, ‘That’s one of your classmates, that’s your little brother or your little sister, so we have to stick together, we have to protect each other,’” she said.

Every year Miss D recruits for her anti-bully squad. She gets the cool kids to stick up for the students being bullied.
“We need our anti-bully squad to be ready for anyone who needs it,” Saunders said.

Johnisha Griffin was one such student. Classmates picked on her for the way she dressed. That was before Miss D stepped in and gave her a new focus.

“By being myself. Telling me to go far in life and get my education,” Griffin said.

“The bullying has stopped and everyone is a fan of Johnisha Griffin,” Sanders said. I’m here for the person who’s not going to speak up for themselves. I am one of a few good men, so I’m here for that.”

Students at the school have said that while there’s no bullying in the lunch room, it does find its way in the classroom and district officials want to put a stamp to that.

KCPS’ new anti-bullying program is based off of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. It focuses on four core components that include school-level, classroom-level, individual-level and community-level. Click here to find out exactly how it focuses on those four components.

KCPS’ program will train more teachers to stop the problem by responding to the problem just like Miss D.

By Laura McCallister and Erika Tallan, August 14, 2014.

Did you like this? Share it:
Comments Off

School Board Chooses Primary Attorney; Renews Contract With CleanPower [Portage Gazette]

The Stevens Point Board of Education officially made the law firm Boardman & Clark its primary law firm at the Monday, Aug. 11, meeting.

The board agreed that if special circumstances arise it will be able to call on other firms but the district should make an effort to use the primary law firm first in all cases possible.

All members except for Chris Scott voted in favor of Boardman & Clark. The other choices were Davis & Kuelthau and Weld, Reilly, Prenn & Ricci. The Business Services Committee select these three firms from the six that responded to a Request for Proposal (RFP).

An RFP for legal services was sent out after the June 9 meeting when board member Jeff Presley said he was concerned about the amount of money the district was spending on attorneys. The RFP was sent to 18 firms, and the three were invited to the Monday meeting for presentations.

“I have been involved with the Stevens Point school district since 1997,” said Michael Julka, the representative from Boardman & Clark who spoke at the meeting. “I have represented the district since that time. I appreciate the role we have played and I would like to continue that role.”

The firm currently represents 90 school districts as well as the School Board Association. The firm has 12 attorneys and one paralegal in its school law practice group, as well as additional attorneys in other fields that it can use for school district issues.

The board has not had an official primary law firm in the past, but rather has used the services of multiple firms simultaneously. Davis & Kuelthau has been used by the board most frequently up to this point.

“I am looking for consistency first of all with the firm that we handle,” said board member Jeff Presley. “For the main stay of the district’s business we should pick a firm whom we feel comfortable with not only as a board but also for our superintendent to use. That is our responsibility by our own policies.”

The board did discuss whether or not it wanted to continue using multiple firms but found wording in its policies that suggest it should have one primary law firm.

“I think a lot of the reason we end up using two law firms is because an opinion will come to this board and the board doesn’t like it,” said board member Jeff Ebel. “So you go get a second opinion.”

CleanPower contract renewed

The School Board renewed its contract with the janitorial contracting service CleanPower for the remainder of the fiscal year, which will end in June of 2015.

The decision came after several delays and contract extensions so the board could consider other options. Several board members have received complaints about CleanPower. The board asked the administration in April to present other options beside CleanPower for janitorial services.

The administration came back in July and presented options to hire district employees to replace CleanPower, but warned the board it would not be able to afford sustaining the salary of all district employees.

The board delayed the contract again in July, asking for more time to consider the budget before making a decision.

“We have been dealing with this issue for months, you have been delaying your decision and now we have kids coming in two weeks,” said Thomas Owens, director of business services. “No matter what you decide, we can’t do something in a week or two very effectively. From an administrative logistical aspect, it’s impossible to hire that many people in this short of time and be ready by Sept. 2.”

Board Member Patricia Baker said she did not want to hire CleanPower again but would be willing to do so until she could have a better understanding of the budget and have time to send out a new RFP for other contractors.

“We kind of left this up to the administration over and over,” said board member Kim Shirek. “We and the community said we do not want CleanPower in (our schools). They should have come up with some other opportunities. I suggested from day one when our community didn’t want CleanPower in there that we go with a different service.”

In the past several months four other schools have discontinued their contracts with CleanPower including, Waukesha County Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College, Turtle Lake School District and Fond Du Lac School District.

“We weren’t happy with the recommendation, we asked the administration to come back to us with different alternatives,” said board member Lisa Totten. “There is no way I am going to support this.”

CleanPower president Jeffrey Packee spoke Monday.

“I am not going to stand up here and defend ourselves, we are going to stand on our record,” said Packee. “We do a very good job with you, we are very flexible with you, with positions times, shifts and everything else.”

The Business Services Committee will meet in September and discuss alternatives to CleanPower. The district can terminate its contract with 30 days’ notice if it so chooses.

Did you like this? Share it:
Comments Off

Adjunct Faculty Exploring Unionization [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

53f805d4858c1.preview-620Nine months out of the year, Andrew Nelson works about 50 hours a week, driving his 1995 Mazda on either 50- or 100-mile round trips every weekday to his college teaching gigs at Lindenwood University in St. Charles and East Central College in Union.

He gets paid just $22,000 a year combined — without the benefit of a retirement package or health care coverage.

Nelson is one of an estimated 4,000 adjunct faculty working in the St. Louis area. All together, they make up the working class of the academic community. They are the low-wage earners who teach classes when full-time faculty are already overloaded with heavy course loads, and they fill in when teaching departments are short-staffed.

For the past few years, a number of shadow campaigns to unionize adjunct faculty have bubbled up at area colleges in the hopes of giving those workers job security, a voice in campus decision-making and to negotiate for benefits and better pay.

While a number of those campaigns have fizzled out before they could gain traction, college leaders have been reluctant to speak about the issue publicly. Privately, however, they acknowledge that it’s a growing movement nationally.

Colleges and universities around the country have been relying on adjuncts more and more as a way to save money as state funding for higher education continues a steady decline now approaching 25 years.

That trend picked up steam in recent years. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that states spent about $2,300, or 28 percent, less per student in 2013 than in 2008.

What the money crunch means for teachers such as Nelson, who has a master’s degree in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia, is that low-paying adjunct positions are plentiful, while full-time faculty jobs are not.

Nelson gets paid about $2,500 a semester for every three-credit course he teaches. So he picks up as many courses as he can, splitting his time between two universities to make ends meet.

But, he said, it’s not just about money.

“The most important thing is that we have no input into the departments we work in. We have no say on textbooks, either,” he said. “So other people determine what we are going to teach and how we are going to teach it.”

Nelson also said adjuncts miss out on holding office hours to better connect with students, plus paid faculty development days which help instructors become better at their jobs.

UNCERTAIN WORK

A congressional report released in January by the Democratic staff of the House Education and the Workforce Committee suggests that Nelson’s concerns are shared broadly by adjunct professors nationwide. The report found that 98 percent of respondents to an online forum said they were “missing opportunities to better serve their students because of the demands of their schedule.”

The report acknowledges that some who serve as adjunct professors do so to supplement the income from other full-time jobs. But increasingly, the report found, instructors are cobbling together multiple adjunct jobs as colleges rely on them “to do the bulk of the work of educating students.”

“The trend should be of concern to policymakers both because of what it means for the living standards and work lives of those individuals we expect to educate the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurs, and other highly skilled workers, and what it may mean for the quality of higher education itself,” the report states.

The report, titled “The Just-in-Time Professor,” draws connections to trends in fast food and retail employment, where workers have little to no means of predicting their work schedules.

That’s been a complaint of Gail Brody, one of six adjunct faculty working alongside two full-time instructors in the architectural program at St. Louis Community College at Meramec in Kirkwood.

Brody has been at the school for 20 years, but, as an adjunct, her schedule is determined by which classes fill up with students and which faculty are available to teach those classes.

She said she generally only finds out whether she will be teaching and what courses she will have just days before each semester starts.

“So you don’t really know if you are going to have that part of your income,” she said. In the meantime, Brody works a retail job that offers her health care coverage.

“The school wouldn’t keep me around for 20 years if I wasn’t a good instructor,” she said. “But you can’t depend on adjunct money. I would be on board with unionizing if it would lead to health care benefits and some consistency.”

‘A SERVANT SUBCLASS’

The Service Employees International Union has been leading the push at several St. Louis-area colleges, and while the organization doesn’t like to state publicly which schools it is looking at, teachers at Lindenwood, St. Louis Community College at Meramec and St. Louis University have said they have been approached.

Nancy Cross, vice president of the SEIU Local 1, said unionizing adjunct faculty has taken on greater significance over the years as full-time faculty positions dry up.

“You have people who spent a lot of time and money to get highly educated with the idea that there was going to be full-time positions available,” she said. “So they leave college with a lot of loans and the full-time positions aren’t there anymore.”

Cross’ point is one that has some traction in Washington. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has been pushing a loan forgiveness program for adjunct faculty.

Durbin’s office reports that from 1991 to 2011, the number of part-time faculty doubled, with many of those workers being adjunct teachers who have an annual income of $25,000 or less, on average.

Durbin argues that adjunct faculty who try to support themselves solely by teaching end up working at multiple schools and carrying a full-time workload but without benefits including paid sick days, vacation and access to health care.

“The vast majority of these educators hold advanced degrees, and as a result, bear the heavy burden of student loan debt,” Durbin said in a statement. “It is only right that we expand their access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, a benefit already available to many of their full-time colleagues.”

Even though adjunct faculty appear to have some national support, it’s unclear how their attempts to unionize will play with full-time faculty in the area.

St. Louis University mathematics professor Steve Harris said he welcomes unionization for adjuncts. He said their current role is that of “a servant subclass,” and that needs to be fixed.

But Dennis Michaelis, St. Louis Community College’s interim chancellor, said he knows of full-time faculty who are against collective bargaining for adjuncts.

Michaelis wouldn’t elaborate, but the common argument is that as adjuncts get a larger share of the pie, there is a possibility that full-time faculty will see their share shrink.

Bob Thumith, SLCC’s director of human resources, said the SEIU’s aggressive tactics — petitioning faculty outside classrooms and elsewhere on campuses — has turned a lot of people off.

“These types of things are supposed to happen organically,” he said. “A lot of teachers don’t like to be bothered in their classrooms.”

Thumith said a push for unionization at SLCC campuses is dying down, as far as he knows.

Whether unionization for adjuncts takes off in the St. Louis area, Southern Illinois University President Randall Dunn said schools will have to adapt.

Forming a union is the logical “response to the second-class-citizen status adjunct faculty have at many institutions,” Dunn said.

If a push to unionize at one of his campuses was successful, it would simply become a more complex budgeting matter.

“We’d have to find the money from other sources,” he said. “Some administrators look at collective bargaining as this terrible thing. I don’t view it that way. It’s a part of doing business.”

By Koran Addo for St. Louis Post-Dispatch; August 24, 2014.

Did you like this? Share it:
Comments Off

More Families Rely On One Low-Paying Job To Survive [Cincinnati Enquirer]

leadlowwagejobs1

Dina Smith of Cumminsville, center rear, works as a janitor. Daughter Evelyn Smith, 23, lives on her own, but Dina Smith supports sons Shauhn Smith, 20, left, Davon Hill, 14, and Bentley Hill, 18. (Photo by Joseph Fuqua III)

Dina Smith sits down at the kitchen table with a small stack of bills every two weeks and asks herself the same question.

“What needs to be taken care of right this second?”

Her twice-monthly paycheck of about $350 means her options are usually limited to paying utilities and restocking a near-empty refrigerator. She’ll put off repairs to her broken-down 2001 Saturn – again – and try to find a few dollars for bus fare instead.

This is life today in one of the tens of thousands of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky households that survive on the paycheck of a low-wage breadwinner.

Now, their numbers are growing faster, putting more families at risk and slowing an already fragile economic recovery regionwide. Everyone feels the sting when households have less money for homes, furniture, cars, TVs, toasters, smartphones and new shoes.

It’s a legacy of the crash that families and the wider economy may suffer with for years.

A study by the National Employment Law Project finds that low-wage jobs, or those it defines as paying less than $14 an hour, have dominated the economic recovery, often at the expense of better-paying jobs.

The group’s Census-based research shows that low-wage jobs accounted for about 20 percent of job losses during the recession, but almost 60 percent of jobs gained during the recovery.

Mid-wage jobs, by contrast, accounted for 60 percent of recession losses, but only about 20 percent of recovery growth.

“It’s very challenging,” said Smith, who supports three sons in Cumminsville on the $9.80 an hour she earns working as a janitor. “We have to live paycheck to paycheck.”

Life ‘more precarious’ for low-wage workers

Low-wage jobs always have been an important part of the economy, whether they’re fast-food jobs that give teenagers their first taste of the working world, or entry-level jobs for adults who want to learn a trade or bring in some extra money for their family.

The difference now is that those jobs increasingly are supporting families, rather than supplementing the income of a better-paid breadwinner.

Since the recession, the number of households with one wage earner has climbed almost 6 percent, according to the U.S. Census. At the same time, the median income of households with one wage earner has fallen almost 4 percent.

So as more families have become reliant on one income, the value of that income has dropped.

“Their lives are more precarious,” said Randy Albelda, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, who has studied the expansion of low-wage jobs. “When a large number of people supporting families can’t do it, then you have a problem.”

The trend toward more low-wage breadwinners has helped fuel the national debate over raising the minimum wage, which is $7.95 in Ohio and $7.25 in Indiana, Kentucky and other states tied to the federal minimum wage.

Albelda’s latest research found that as many as 20 million people, about half the low-wage workers in America, are household breadwinners. She defined low-wage breadwinners as primary earners who make less than $11 an hour, or about $23,000 a year.

She estimated that between 10 and 14 percent of adult workers now earn a low wage and rely on those earnings to support a household, the biggest share since at least the 1980s.

The instability of low-wage jobs often creates as many problems as the low pay, Albelda said. Benefits typically are minimal, or non-existent, and layoffs or reduced hours are common as employers try to shave costs.

That’s certainly been Smith’s experience. She once worked full eight-hour days, but those hours have been cut to less than five since the recession.

If she misses work because of illness, as she did a few weeks ago, she doesn’t get paid. If her car breaks down, as it did last month, she’s dependent on the bus.

1975009_10151935837871396_2039711247_nSmith, 43, has considered looking for a job with more hours, but after eight years with the same company, she fears starting over elsewhere will leave her more vulnerable to layoffs. She’s also thinking about taking on a second job, something she’s done in the past.

“A lot of janitors I know work two or three jobs. I’ve been there, done that,” Smith said. “We should be able to work one job, a respectable job, to live.”

Smith doesn’t receive food stamps or other public assistance, and she moved out of public housing and in with a friend because she felt the neighborhood was getting too rough for her 14-year-old son. Her daughter lives on her own, but her other sons, ages 20 and 18, still live at home.

Smith pays utilities and groceries; her friend pays the rent. She’s the only one in her household with a steady job and knows her family can’t survive on her income forever, especially if her hours get cut again.

“I may end up having to sleep in a car, and I don’t want to do that,” she said.

Competition greater for low-paying jobs

Smith, who has a high school diploma, is in some ways a typical low-wage worker. According to Albelda’s study, more than 54 percent are women, 43 percent are minorities and more than 90 percent don’t have a college degree.

During the recession, however, more educated workers slipped into the ranks of low-wage earners, which created problems not only for them, but for the less-educated workers they sometimes displaced.

“It’s a bit more competitive now,” said Chris Janson, Cincinnati metro market manager for the Robert Half staffing agency. “We’ve got folks willing to take less than they’re worth. They’re willing to do it for a limited time, until something better comes along.”

Janson said starting pay for some of those temporary jobs is between $10 and $15 an hour, although he said salaries are beginning to creep up and more options are becoming available to workers as the economy improves.

How much it will improve – and how long it will take wages to reach pre-recession levels – is a question economists have been wrestling with for years. Some fear lower pay and fewer benefits will become the new normal, because the labor pool is large and companies have learned to get by with less.

“This recession was an opportunity for a lot of employers to clear out a lot of people,” Albelda said. “It’s workers on demand now. In industry, they call it just-in-time inventory. So this is just-in-time workers.”

Growing uncertainty in the job market means households would be better off with a second wage earner, regardless of how much the primary wage earner is making. The Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts has found that many families now require at least two incomes to match or exceed the household income of the previous generation.

“Mobility is increasingly a family enterprise,” said Diana Elliott, a research officer at Pew. “Families need those second earners’ money to move them up the income ladder.”

The impact of more low-wage breadwinners isn’t limited to the breadwinners’ families. If paychecks cover little more than rent, utilities and groceries, the broader economy doesn’t benefit much.

“People have to make a lot of very tough choices,” said Leslie Mendoza Kamstra, spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union Local 1, which represents janitors, such as Smith, and security officers. “It’s not a high school kid. It’s someone supporting a family.”

Low-paying jobs have been part of Smith’s life since she started working more than 25 years ago. There was a time, she said, when those jobs were more plentiful, the hours were more reliable and the pay was better.

Today, Smith said, that stability is gone. Finding a new job, or a second job, may be the only way she can continue to support her family.

But she said that’s no easy task, either.

“It’s hard to find one job,” she said. “There’s so many people out here looking.” ■

 

More households survive on one (shrinking) income

Households with one wage earner in 2007: 43.3 million

Households with one wage earner in 2012: 45.8 million

Percent change since 2007: +5.8 percent

Median income of households with one wage earner in 2007: $45,082

Median income of households with one wage earner in 2012: $43,335

Percent change since 2007: –3.9 percent

Source: U.S. Census

Low-paying jobs rebound faster from recession

Share of job losses in recession

Low-wage jobs – 21 percent

Mid-wage jobs – 60 percent

High-wage jobs – 19 percent

Share of job gains in recovery

Low-wage jobs – 58 percent

Mid-wage jobs – 22 percent

High-wage jobs – 20 percent

Definitions: Low-wage jobs are defined as median hourly wages of $7.69 to $13.83, mid-wage jobs are $13.84 to $21.13, and high-wage jobs are $21.14 to $54.55.

Source: National Employment Law Project analysis of U.S. Census data

What is the minimum wage?

Ohio: $7.95 for non-tipped employees; $3.98 for tipped employees

Kentucky: $7.25 for non-tipped employees; $2.13 for tipped employees

Indiana: $7.25 for non-tipped employees; $2.13 for tipped employees

Federal: $7.25 for non-tipped employees; $2.13 for tipped employees

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Did you like this? Share it:
Comments Off

School Board Deliberates Over CleanPower Contract [The Portage County Gazette]

by Sarah McQueen, 4/4/2014 – The Portage County Gazette.

The Stevens Point Area Public School District Board will work to decide if it should sign another contract with CleanPower, a janitorial service, or look for services elsewhere. The current contract expires June 30.CleanPower presented the board with a contract Monday, March 31, but the board declined signing it on the grounds that the contract was incomplete and that more time is needed to consider other options. CleanPower will return at the April 14 meeting with a completed contract to seek the board’s approval.

SEIU Local 1 Wisconsin Coordinator Dave Somerscales addresses the Stevens Point School Board on March 31, 2014.

SEIU Local 1 Wisconsin Coordinator Dave Somerscales addresses the Stevens Point School Board on March 31, 2014.

Board member Jeff Presley said he was not comfortable signing a contract with many blank spaces on it.

Superintendent Atilla Weninger suggested the board sign the contract, contingent on their satisfaction with it at the next meeting. He said after the contract is signed the board has 30 days to terminate it. That option was voted down.

Kim Shirek said she has received more than 20 emails from community members complaining about CleanPower.

“I would like to see us change and go to another company and not do a five-year contract,” Shirek said. “I am hoping the board will look at all the emails we have received and not hire them (CleanPower) for another five years.”

Board member Bob Larson said it was not in the budget to change the program.

“We know we can’t afford to have a contract go away, we went through the RFP process like we were supposed to do and CleanPower came up first based on dollars and points,” said Bob Larson. “What do you want to do? Eliminate CleanPower? We can’t sustain it.”

The district uses a mix of contracted employees from CleanPower and its own custodial positions to clean the schools. The district keeps a mix of 60 percent district custodians and 40 percent contracted from CleanPower. By using contracted employees, the district saves approximately $1 million annually.

At the Dec. 16 board meeting, an anonymous document entitled “Daily Issues with CleanPower at SPASH” was presented to the board. The list included things such as exterior doors left unlocked, interior doors left unlocked, resulting in alarms being set off; missing tools, keys and food; locker rooms not cleaned and disinfected; employee turnover; smoking on campus; and late arrival and early leaving. The letter addressed 17 items in total and the board asked that administration respond to the problems.

Thomas Owens, the director of business services, reported back to the board Monday regarding the list of issues.

“We found no facts to substantiate or support the notion that any such things have occurred on a daily basis,” Owens said

Owens interviewed the custodial staff and addressed each of the issues mentioned on the list. Owens said some of the issues listed were too vague and unsubstantiated to address. He cited many of the issues as having occurred once or twice, but said they were dealt with at the time of the occurrence.

One issue not refuted was the high employee turnover.

“The frequency of turnover of CleanPower staff does vary,” Owens said. “Sometimes several people are replaced and at other time periods not so much.”

Regarding this list Weninger said he needs to make a decision based on facts as best as we can get them from the providers.

“I cannot not make a decision based on rumor and innuendo,” Weninger said

Several members of the public spoke at the March 11 board meeting, stating the board should not sign another contract with CleanPower.

Dave Somerscales, a representative from Service Employees International Union Local 1, a labor union based in Milwaukee, attended the March 11 and 31 meetings to speak against CleanPower.

“CleanPower has many accounts, they are paying poverty wages,” Somerscales said. “That brings down the cleaning standard for everybody when you set the bar so low. We wanted to make sure the school board and the surrounding community understood this is not a good company to do business with. This is about accountability and transparency.”

A representative from CleanPower declined to comment at the meeting but agreed to make a statement afterward.

“CleanPower has been engaged in a successful partnership with the Stevens Point school district for the past 10 years,” said Jana Rusk, vice president of human resources and safety for CleanPower. “This relationship has been consistently successful due to our strong local managers, extensive pre-employment background checks, ongoing training and development and our continued focus on safety.”

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Comments Off

Columbus Janitors and Cleaning Companies Invest In Good Jobs [Columbus Free Press]

Cbus One Page 2

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

SEIU Columbus Janitors Head Into The New Year Knowing There Is Power In The Union [Labor Radio]

by Doug Cunningham, December 25,  2013

Columbus. Ohio janitors represented by SEIU will enter the New Year knowing that there is power in the union. The janitors reached a new contract agreement after a one-year battle with predominantly national cleaning companies. Contract talks broke down when the companies demanded a wage freeze and a return to part-time hours. But the janitors decided to stand together and fight.  SEIU organizer Amanda Hart.

[Amanda Hart]: “We did fight back. And we joined with community and faith and elected leaders. We rallied and protested and many of our workers even went out on strike. And on two separate occasions community members were arrested in non-violent civil disobedience actions in support of good jobs for our janitors. And at the end of the day their efforts paid off and we improved jobs in Columbus. It really just showed people that whenever you stand up together, gains can be made. This is a victory for us.  When you’re looking at your hours being cut from full-time to part-time, that can be up to half your income. Like, how do you survive after that – other than going to get get a second or third job? It’s just not sustainable. And that’s why they made the decision to stand up. And at the end of the day, we did it.”

Carla Nugeness says she and her fellow workers united and were determined to not only fight for their rights and to improve their working conditions, but to win that fight.

[Carla Nugeness]: “I feel much better. We have more full-time buildings, which will help a lot of the janitors. The knocking down the hours was hard for everybody, so the full-time hours will help everybody out. I’ve been out there every day in the cold and the wind and the rain and tryin’ to keep warm at the same, tryin’ to fight for our rights and for everybody else’s rights and help all of us out. All of us janitors have a hard time, I mean, on what we make. And now we can maybe make it.”

The new contract for the Columbus janitors takes effect January 1st.

(Thanks to Evan Davis at WCRS radio in Columbus for audio used in this story.)

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Columbus janitors win 3-year contract [The Examiner]

by Steve Palm-Houser, December 17, 2013

Janitors who work in downtown Columbus office buildings have voted to ratify a new three-year contract with their employers, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced yesterday in a press release. The contract, which goes into effect on January 1, will affect about 1,000 janitors and their families.

“Today we proved that when workers join together, we have strength. This is a huge victory for all hard working janitors,” said SEIU Local 1 member Claude Smith on Saturday after the contract vote. “With this new contract, our families can live a little better.”

The main point of contention in contract negotiations was maintaining a majority full-time work force. Cleaning contractors wanted to eliminate full-time hour guarantees. The agreement reached keeps the majority of the workforce at full-time status with company-provided benefits. The contract also includes a $.20 per hour wage increase in 2014.

“We all won today,” said SEIU Local 1 president Tom Balanoff. “The community came together in Columbus and chose prosperity over poverty, full-time work over part-time work. This victory brings hope to security officers, fast food workers, and others trapped by poverty wages.”

Janitors went on strike in multiple Columbus office buildings over the past few months. Employees alleged that cleaning companies had repeatedly violated federal law by harassing and intimidating employees after they called for job improvements. The janitors’ struggle garnered support from religious leaders, elected officials, and community groups in central Ohio.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

SEIU Local 1 Stands with the People of South Africa and the World as We Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela, a Man Who Showed the World that We Can Make Historic Changes for the Better.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 
Nell McNamara, mcnamaran@seiu1.org, 206-852-5934

 

SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff Greets Nelson  in 1993.

SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff Greets Nelson in 1993.

The following is a statement regarding Nelson Mandela’s death by SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff:

“When I met Nelson Mandela in 1993, we discussed the power of people working together to make real strides toward a better world. He believed that ‘poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.’

One of the most powerful ways we can work to remove poverty is by joining together to improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of working people. Together, we can make the impossible possible and win a better future for our children.

SEIU Local 1 will continue its work to build a fair and just economy, inspired by Nelson Mandela’s legacy of pursuing radical change for economic justice.”

Mr. Balanoff had a private meeting in 1993 during Mr. Mandela’s trip to Chicago to visit with community and labor leaders. He is available for comments and interviews.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Janitors, Elected Officials & Community Supporters Rally, Join National Call for Good Jobs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2013

Contact:  Ivan Moreno | morenoi@seiu1.org | 773.799.6455

With contract talks for hundreds of Milwaukee-area janitors to begin tomorrow…

Janitors, Elected Officials & Community Supporters Rally, Join National Call for Good Jobs

 Milwaukee – SEIU Local 1 janitors rallied today with the support of local leaders like Alderman Tony Zielinski to kick off contract negotiations between hundreds of Milwaukee janitors and some of the largest janitorial contractors in the country. Janitors are joining a growing movement in the nation’s low wage workforce that is calling on the country’s richest corporations to create good jobs that can sustain local communities.

“We can actually do something about poverty in Milwaukee by fighting for good jobs,” said Jeryllyn Jeanes, a Milwaukee janitor and 19-year union member. “This is about respect and receiving fair wages for the hard work that we do every day.”

Union janitors with SEIU Local 1 are proposing a fair wage increase and maintained access to affordable health care. When low wage workers like Milwaukee’s janitors are forced to rely on publicly funded programs, taxpayers are essentially subsidizing the profits of corporations like BMO Harris and the janitorial contractors that they hire.

“Milwaukee janitors are uniting to create good jobs that move our city forward,” said Alderman Tony Zielinski. “We do our part to make Milwaukee strong. Now we call on Milwaukee’s employers to do their part and help create a city that is prosperous for all of us.”

Janitors rallied in front of BMO Harris Bank, a corporation that made $4.1 billion last year alone, but whose janitors, employed by CleanPower, are paid poverty wages with no benefits. In fact, according to the state of Wisconsin, more than 300 of CleanPower’ s Wisconsin employees and more than 500 of their children already rely on public benefits to obtain health care.

Many Milwaukee janitors qualify for and depend on a host of public assistance programs to make ends meet. With the fourth highest poverty rate of any major city in the nation and a high rate of racial income disparity, janitors see a fair contract as a direct way to address Milwaukee’s growing wealth inequality. The current agreement covers more than 400 Milwaukee janitors and expires on December 31, 2013. Talks to negotiate a new agreement are set to start tomorrow, November 20.

 ###

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

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment