MILWAUKEE–By an overwhelming margin, SEIU Local 1 janitors in Milwaukee approved a new union contract increasing their ability to support their families and providing a more accessible benefits package. This contract covers 350 janitors in downtown Milwaukee and is the first three-year agreement to be approved since 2009.
“These economic gains will directly benefit our region’s economy for years to come, helping hardworking families build a better Milwaukee for generations,” said SEIU Local 1 Wisconsin Coordinator Dave Somerscales. “Local 1 is leading the way for all working people – when you stand up together and bargain collectively, we all win.”
The new three-year contract, which went into effect on August 1, guaranteeswage increases over the life of the contract. A key negotiations goal for the janitors was to ensure that their employers agree to yearly increases toward the provided health insurance.
“This is a huge victory for Milwaukee,” said SEIU Local 1 member employed by Modern Maintenance Maria Sada. “This will be the first time since 2009 that we won a three-year contract with raises and benefits improving each year over the life of the agreement. By standing together and working with our employers, we have created the kind of jobs that will benefit all of Milwaukee.”
“Our recent wins are exciting, and proof that SEIU Local 1 members are leading the way for working families. The economic gains we make in our contracts not only help SEIU Local 1 members’ families live a better life, but they also promise a better future for our country.”
– Tom Balanoff, SEIU Local 1 President
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Unions help working families fulfill their dreams in many ways. One way SEIU Local 1 does this is by providing yearly college scholarships.
SEIU Local 1 recently awarded almost $40,000 in scholarships to sixteen members’ children, including a grand prize scholarship of $10,000.
Every year, SEIU Local 1 awards college scholarships to members and their children. These scholarships enable recipients to pursue their educational goals at colleges, universities, labor study programs and technical schools. Scholarships are funded by SEIU Local 1’s annual golf outing.
Janitors have been fighting to raise standards in property services throughout Milwaukee for more than a decade. During that time, SEIU Local 1 members rallied in the streets, traveled and lobbied the State Capitol in Madison, stood with striking fast food workers, and have even risked their jobs and their livelihood standing side-by-side with security officers attempting to form a union.
Nearly one year ago, the janitors’ union wrote and proposed a Responsible Bidder’s Ordinance to the Milwaukee City Council. Allies along with Aldermen Tony Zielinski and Nik Kovac co-sponsored the ordinance and championed the janitors’ cause.
Last week, Milwaukee’s Responsible Bidder Ordinance was passed by a unanimous 14-0 vote by the Milwaukee City Council and signed into law by Mayor Tom Barrett. The ordinance will empower the city to ensure that no irresponsible contractors get city tax dollars to perform janitorial services – preventing irresponsible contractors from winning public work without making operational changes. The law will also cover the security and food service industries, solidifying responsible public contracting in those sectors as well.
The unanimous passing of this Responsible Bidder’s Ordinance illustrates how fostering strong relationships with elected officials will help lift the entire city of Milwaukee with good jobs.
Unions help working families fulfill their dreams in many ways. At SEIU Local 1, this includes yearly college scholarship opportunities. These scholarships enable SEIU Local 1 members and their children to pursue their education goals at colleges, universities, labor study programs and technical schools.
Make sure to research the following opportunities for SEIU Local 1 members and your children – the deadlines for applications are coming up!
Today, the grand jury’s decision deepens those wounds and amplifies even more the disproportionate and disparate injustices experienced by communities of color.
“For months, families across our nation have experienced collective grief and outrage over the taking of Michael Brown’s life and the resulting turmoil that has upended the community in Ferguson, Missouri. Today, the grand jury’s decision deepens those wounds and amplifies even more the disproportionate and disparate injustices experienced by communities of color. These injustices reverberate through all communities and take our nation another step away from a fair and just society.
Our disappointment in today’s decision does not extinguish the hope in our hearts for a better America for all our children regardless of where they were born or in which zip code they live.
Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. All lives matter. The dream of America can never be fully realized until justice and safety prevail in every community across our country. The Department of Justice must prioritize the investigation into the murder of Michael Brown.
SEIU members stand with our brothers and sisters in Ferguson and across the nation in expressing our grief and frustration. We join them in calling for something better for all neighborhoods and communities and joining together in peaceful demonstrations at federal courthouses across the country.
More information can be found here (http://nationalactionnetwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/HANDS-UP-JUSTICE-RALLY-FLIER-11-21.pdf). We encourage all involved law enforcement to honor the rules and the rights of people to protest and speak out.
We will not rest in these efforts until America is a more just society where every human being is respected and every community has equal opportunity to thrive.
For Immediate Release: November 24, 2014
Media Contact: Beau Boughamer; firstname.lastname@example.org; 202/765-9143
Kathie Eilers, the on-again-off-again mental health administrator, resigned Monday as liaison to the newly created Milwaukee County Mental Health Board, saying her expertise is no longer required.
County Executive Chris Abele, who appointed the 70-year-old former administrator to the board in May, said he knew her term would be a “finite engagement.”
Eilers released a statement saying that she enjoyed her time working with the board, and that her resignation would be effective Dec. 19.
County Board members, who have been quick to criticize the Mental Health Board since its inception last spring, say the move is a sign of turmoil on the new board.
“There are some very good people on the board, but it is in disarray,” County Board Supervisor Patricia Jursik said. “The way the whole board was set up has been problematic from the beginning.”
The board was created by state law — it passed the state Senate and Assembly by a combined vote of 122-1 — after a Journal Sentinel investigation showed hundreds of people with severe mental illness suffered and died as County Board members ignored decades of calls for reform.
The law requires the new board to be made up of medical professionals and people with mental illness. Their goal is to transition mental health care in Milwaukee County from services mainly provided at the county psychiatric hospital to more programs in the community.
County Board members have sharply criticized the new board for passing a budget in late August without holding public comment, calling it “taxation without representation.”
The mental health budget is included in the overall county budget submitted by Abele — an elected official. The County Board approved the overall budget Monday. By law, the board cannot change the amount in the mental health budget.
Abele said Monday the numbers are moving in the right direction since the new board was established, with fewer emergency room visits and better outcomes for patients.
“I never said this new board would be perfect,” Abele said. “But it’s a vast improvement on what we had for decades. Does anyone really want the County Board to be running mental health again?”
The debate comes as administrators grapple with ways to provide care amid a shrinking workforce.
John Schneider, the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division’s executive medical director, sent a memo last week detailing the reduction of inpatient beds at the county’s Mental Health Complex while the administration works to recruit more employees.
“We will be instituting new census caps for use to better, safer and more efficaciously manage our duty to care for patients,” he said.
Pat Schroeder, the BHD administrator, told Mental Health Board members in an email last week that she and her staff were working hard to meet the demands to ensure patient safety.
“The challenges of the recent weeks have demonstrated that we need to take different actions to assure quality and safety,” Schroeder said.
The county’s Mental Health Complex has been cited more than 182 times by federal and state administrators for code violations in the past 10 years, 30% more than at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals for criminal offenders.
A doctor who examined medical records of six patients who died at the complex in 2012 found that basic medical care was lacking in four of the cases, contributing to their deaths.
The county recruited and trained 14 registered nurses in the past three months, only to have 14 other nurses resign.
The BHD, with 585 employees, is one of the county’s largest departments. Those who work there are considered county employees, but the budget is overseen by the Mental Health Board and not the County Board.
Mental Health Board members have called a special meeting at 10 a.m. Nov. 19 to discuss what duties they and the BHD staff should be performing. The meeting will be in the auditorium at the Milwaukee Public Schools Central Services Building, 5225 W. Vliet St., to allow easy access for the public to attend and comment.
Eilers, a nurse, retired from the county in 2003 after nearly 20 years, including about a decade as behavioral health administrator, with a pension of $4,056 a month. Abele named her as the head of the BHD in 2013, but the County Board rejected her appointment.
Her job with the Mental Health Board paid $75 an hour, and she worked roughly 26 hours a week.
At the September 6, 2014, membership meeting, a new SEIU Local 1 Executive Board was elected and sworn in. The slate of nominees was uncontested and the new board members were voted in by acclamation at every SEIU Local 1 membership meeting across our six states. We look forward to the new Executive Board’s leadership. You can read the list of the current board officers and members.
We also celebrate the years of service that the outgoing board members dedicated to their SEIU Local 1 brothers and sisters. Be sure to thank these leaders for all that they have done for working families in the Midwest.
“We need a strong economy that works for all—not just the wealthy few. Chicago should be the next big city to pay workers the wages they need to provide a decent life for themselves and a better one for their children.” Tom Balanoff, SEIU Local 1 President
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