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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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Emanuel proposes raise, right to organize for airport employees

Nearly 8,000 contract employees at O’Hare Airport would be paid “no less than $13.45-an-hour” and guaranteed the right to join unions under a mayoral plan embraced by organized labor.

At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel followed through on his promise to tie licenses for airport contractors to a “labor peace agreement” that allows baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, aircraft maintenance workers and security guards to organize without interference.

But the ordinance the mayor introduced goes beyond prohibiting contractors from interfering and preventing those workers from “engaging in strikes, picketing, work stoppages, boycotts or other economic interference.”

It would mandate those airline contractors and sub-contractors to pay their employees no less than $13.45-an-hour beginning on July 1, 2018, with annual increases every year after that tied to the cost-of-living.

Employees whose wages include gratuities would have to be paid $1-an-hour more than the $5.95-an-hour minimum wage that applies to tipped employees.

“Nothing shall impede licensed employees from bargaining collectively with representatives of their own choosing to establish wages or conditions of work in excess of the minimum standards,” the ordinance states.

Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the Emanuel floor leader who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Workforce Development, said the ordinance is patterned after a licensing plan at the Los Angeles airport that has already withstood a court challenge.

“We have set a [wage] floor. And we think that helps all of the workers at O’Hare,” O’Connor said Thursday.

“To the extent that the union can come in and enhance that, we have laid the table for that to take place. It’s not a city function to do the bargaining, but to make sure we have it where it can go on and that the airport runs in a smooth way.”

Jerry Morrison, assistant to the president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, praised Emanuel for going beyond the terms of a long-stalled airport living wage ordinance that was nearly brought to a vote on the City Council floor over the mayor’s objections.

“We’re excited that the mayor was willing to take a stand like that,” Morrison said.

Morrison stressed that there is “no guarantee of union membership.” SEIU Local 1 still must organize airport contract employees and hold union elections.

But the mayor’s ordinance “lays important groundwork,” by establishing “minimum standards” that the city, as the operator of O’Hare and Midway, will insist on, Morrison said.

“There will be some of these contractors that will be resistant. But the nice thing about a labor peace [agreement] is that these guys can’t go out and run multi-million dollar anti-union campaigns,” Morrison said.

“People will join a union 80-to-90 percent of the time if there’s fair, free and open elections and there’s not an anti-union smear campaign by an employer.”

Exciting News: Over 8,000 contracted airport workers in Chicago are a huge step closer in their Fight For $15 and union rights! Read the full piece over at The Chicago Sun-Times.

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Labor movement turns to social activism to attract millennials

Police shootings, LGBT rights and immigration issues often are not associated with the traditional American labor movement.

But for Paul Nappier, a 30 year-old organizer for the Service Employees International Union Local 1 in Indianapolis, these are the issues that affect his members.

Many local members have undocumented family members, friends who have been killed by police and many themselves live in poverty, he says in a dusty union hall on West Washington Street.

That is why Nappier and several other millennial Indianapolis labor leaders rally and protest for activist causes that have little to do with workplace conditions.

“People, especially younger people today, are completely dissatisfied with the income disparities and racism we’ve inherited,” Nappier said, adding that “for too long, organized labor has ignored these issues.”

Only recently have large international unions come to terms with issues of racism and sexism. In February 2015, the AFL-CIO created a new Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to examine racial issues within labor.

 Nappier says the need for change within the labor movement to address social justice issues is pressing, especially as union ranks are increasingly thin and more diverse. Nationally, union membership has declined by 2.9 million since 1983. The percentage of the workforce belonging unions dropped to 11.1 percent in 2015 from 20.1 percent in 1983.

 

Today, the membership of SEIU Local 1, for instance, is 30 percent immigrants, many of them women, Nappier said.

 

And the data show that there is an untapped segment of workers for the service industry union. In the service industry, black workers comprise 20.5 percent of all combined food-preparation and serving workers, while Hispanics are 18.7 percent of those workers, according to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Additionally, in 2015, millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Nappier said his next challenge is getting more younger people signed up for union membership.

While millennials (people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) hold a much more favorable view of labor unions than do older Americans — statistics show that they are the least likely age group to be union members.

Marquita Walker, a labor studies professor at Indiana University, says that may be because unions were traditionally exclusionary to women and people of color.

“And there is still a great deal of bias in promoting these people to leaders in the movement,” she said.

Be sure to check out the full video over at The Indy Star!

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St. Charles Community College adjunct faculty approve contract


St. Charles Community College’s part-time faculty members have ratified their first contract, which was approved by the college’s board on Monday.

The four-year contract will increase wages and stabilize scheduling for the more than 250 part-time faculty members, who voted in March 2016 to unionize and join the Service Employees International Union Local 1.

“This ratification is a really big moment for SCC adjuncts in gaining respect and recognition on campus,” Lisa Decarli, part-time faculty member in sociology, said in a statement. “Through this contract, not only will we get pay raises, but we’ll also have increased job security, a formal grievance process, and a respected and powerful voice on campus.”

Congratulations to our Local 1 brothers and sisters at SCC on ratifying their first contract! Be sure to read the full story over at the St. Louis Business Journal.

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Republican Lawmakers Take A Raise Away From St. Louis Workers

Two months ago, Cynthia Sanders got a raise at her janitorial job, from $8.30 to $10 per hour, after St. Louis passed a law raising its minimum wage. The extra money has helped the 51-year-old cover groceries and utilities as she raises three grandchildren.

But in just a few weeks, Sanders’ pay rate could drop back down again, thanks to a new law Republicans in the Missouri legislature passed invalidating St. Louis’ minimum wage.

“It was life-changing to get this, and it’s going to be life-changing to have it taken away,” said Sanders, who cleans four kitchenettes and eight bathrooms per shift at a Wells Fargo building downtown. “You’ve got children looking at you to be a provider. How do I tell them we’ve got to eat noodles again this week?”

Like other low-wage workers in Missouri and beyond, Sanders finds herself caught in a political and legal battle between local Democrats and state Republicans. As blue cities become incubators for progressive policy, their red state legislatures are trying to thwart them through “preemption laws” that forbid cities and counties from implementing their own measures related to the minimum wage, paid sick days, plastic bag taxes and other hot-button issues.

So far, Republican state legislators are winning the fight. In Missouri, for example, the GOP controls both chambers of the statehouse as well as the governor’s mansion.

Under the law Republicans passed in response to St. Louis’ new ordinance, no locality could have a minimum wage higher than the state level of $7.70 per hour. And St. Louis is not the only city immediately affected. A referendum to gradually raise the minimum wage in Kansas City to $15 was slated to go on the ballot in August.

Gov. Eric Greitens (R) said he does not intend to veto the bill. So under the rules of the Missouri Constitution it will eventually go into effect automatically, reverting the St. Louis minimum wage to $7.70 on Aug. 28. It would also preempt the minimum wage under consideration in Kansas City.

As Missouri Governor Eric Greitens lowers the minimum wage for over 35,000 working families in St. Louis, SEIU Local 1 members refuse to go down without a fight! Read the full HuffPost story, featuring Cynthia Sanders, a Local 1 janitor!

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Labor, City Council allies propose fair workweek ordinance

Arguing that “unpredictable” scheduling makes it tough to get ahead or balance work and family, organized labor and its City Council allies on Tuesday proposed a legislative remedy.

The “Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance” is patterned after similar legislation in San Francisco, Seattle and New York City.

If the City Council approves, employers would be required to give their hourly workers at least two weeks’ advance notice of what their work schedules will be.

If a schedule change is made with less than 24 hours notice, the employer would be required to provide one additional hour of pay for each changed shift.

Employers would be required to provide workers a written “good faith estimate” of the employee’s work schedule and minimum hours prior to or on their first day on the job.

Danny Rodriquez works as a wheelchair attendant, security officer and weekend shift manager at O’Hare. He also takes care of his grandmother, who suffers from mental illness and requires around-the-clock care.

“Sometimes, I can’t stay home. I can’t be by her side. Either I go to work or I have a chance of getting fired for me calling off. No one should be in that predicament,” Rodriguez said.

SEIU Local 1 is a proud supporter #FairWorkweek Ordinance! Read more over at The Chicago Sun-Times, including an interview with Danny Rodriquez, an O’Hare Airport worker who is a leader in O’Hare Airport workers efforts to organize.

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Union Janitors Rally, Calling for Greitens to Uphold Minimum Wage

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Union janitors rally in downtown St. Louis calling on Missouri Governor Greitens to uphold the $10 an hour minimum wage in the city.

Janitor Eugene Hubbard says the people who clean your office have bills to pay too.

“You know, these people go to work everyday and they go to a clean building,” Hubbard says. “Half the janitors they don’t even see, because a lot of us are at not – but they do see our work.”

Sierra Parker is a janitor at a corporate office downtown and says she is fighting for the minimum wage.

“The message here today is to fight for justice for the janitors and not just only the janitors, but the fast food workers too,” Parker says. “We need this $10 minimum wage.”

Governor Greitens has yet to sign a bill passed in the regular session, House Bill 1194. The bill would repeal the higher minimum wage in the city of St. Louis.

Read the full story, featuring Local 1 members, over at KMOX!

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AUDIO: United Airlines Has Happy Shareholders, Unhappy Workers

United Airlines’ shareholders don’t seem too worried about the long-term impact of a passenger being violently dragged off a plane. But workers for United’s contractors are protesting low wages.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: It’s not the airline’s passengers who are fed up with United. These are employees – baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants and others picketing across the street from the massive Willis Tower, downtown Chicago, where United is headquartered. These low-wage workers are not employed by United but by companies contracted with the airline. Raquel Brito says she and the others are not sharing in United’s recent surge in profits.

RAQUEL BRITO: We just need a living wage so we can pay our bills and put food on the table for our family.

Read the full interview over at NPR and listen to the interview with Raquel Brito, O’Hare Airport worker, below!

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Fight For $15 Protests Target McDonalds, United Airlines Shareholders

CBS United Shareholder 2017CHICAGO (CBS) — The Fight for $15 movement took aim at shareholders meetings for two Chicago area corporate giants on Wednesday — McDonald’s and United Airlines — as low-pay workers continued their push for a higher minimum wage.

Fight for $15 protesters also sought to send a message to United Airlines at the company’s shareholder meeting at Willis Tower on Wednesday.

Airport workers – including baggage handlers, janitors, and security officers – were joined by leaders of the Service Employees International Union, which has been trying to unionize the employees of subcontractors hired by the airlines.

“O’Hare workers are coming together with other airport workers from major cities across the country, all fighting for a better life by sticking together and speaking out,” SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff said.

The workers claim contractors hired by United undercut jobs at O’Hare, and undermine safety and security.

“We understand this is an important issue being raised in cities and states across the country. At United, we hold our vendors to the highest standards and require them to follow all applicable laws and regulations. Since we do not have a direct employer-employee relationship with our vendors’ employees, we must rely on them to work with each other directly,” United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said in an email.

SEIU officials said 30 airport workers and supporters were arrested at the United Airlines protest, including Balanoff. Police issued citations for blocking traffic.

Watch the full video over at CBS Chicago!

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St. Louis minimum wage increase takes effect Friday

STL FlagST. LOUIS – St. Louis City will raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour as the clock strikes midnight May 5. Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer lifted the injunction on the city ordinance that will bring the wage increase into effect.

The bill will eventually cap out at $11/hour as of Jan. 1 , 2018.

Minimum wage workers, like Richard Bullion of the Service Employees International Union, celebrated the announcement Friday.

“Too many working people in St. Louis need to take a second job just to keep our head above water. Between bills, food, and rent, there’s not much left at the end of the day,” Bullion, a janitor for 25 years, said. “We need to make sure working families can make a living, and raising the minimum wage will go a long way towards making that a reality. The janitors, higher education faculty, and public sector workers of SEIU Local 1 thank Mayor Lyda Krewson for implementing this law. We fought long and hard for this victory.”

This is a huge victory for the working families of St. Louis! Read the full story over at The Missouri Times.

 

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