Wisconsin

Happy Holidays from the 1 percent [The Milwaukee Community Journal]

Happy Holidays from the 1 percent

How Christmas was stolen from Bessie Hervey and eleven other Downtown Milwaukee janitors

MILWAUKEE – Bessie Hervey had cleaned the 875 E. Wisconsin Ave. building since it opened in 2002. On December 1, just in time for Christmas, she and her 11 co-workers were replaced by cleaners paid poverty wages and no health benefits.

Bessie and her coworkers are union janitors, represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – Local 1. The new cleaners hired by the property owner, Wangard Partners, are nonunion workers paid less than $8.00 an hour. A union janitor makes $11 an hour.

“We were promised that the new company would offer jobs to the janitors,” Bessie said, describing the typical process when building management changes janitorial companies. Neither Wangard nor the new cleaning company followed through on this promise.

“Instead, they locked the doors on us and we couldn’t get in the building to even apply,” Bessie said. “It was a slap in the face.”

Hervey was one of several janitors, employed by Regency Janitorial Services, who had cleaned the building since it opened. She has never missed a day of work, never being written up, and she has been cleaning major office buildings in Downtown Milwaukee for nearly 20 years.

Bessie was part of the long fight to lift wages for janitors and other downtown workers from $4.25 per hour with no health insurance to the current $11 an hour with union health insurance. Now that she is not working, Bessie will lose the union health insurance.

“For the past 20 years janitors fought hard to make a measly $11 an hour, and now Wangard wants to take us back to where we were,” said Pete Hanrahan, vice president of Hervey’s union, SEIU Local 1. “Wangard is picking janitors’ pockets to line his wallet,” Hanrahan said.

SEIU Local 1 represents over 1,000 janitors and other workers in Downtown Milwaukee, including the vast majority of major office buildings, Marquette janitors and food service workers, and Miller Park ushers and grounds crew.

“This isn’t just about me and my job,” Bessie said. “This is about all of us who work hard downtown — US Bank building, Chase Bank, Grand Ave. — and have fought for years to get what little we’ve got. If they can take my job, they can take everybody’s job, and it will be like a domino effect.

“We have to fight now to protect all of our jobs.”

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Save Our Jobs Rally in Milwaukee – December 1, 2011

SEIU Local 1 member rallied to support the ten janitors at 875 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee who lost their jobs this week.

The new owner of the building gave the cleaning contract to a non-union cleaning company. The majority of the SEIU Local 1 janitors who work there will not be retained. These members have fought hard for their wages and benefits and need good jobs to provide for their families.

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Union protests janitorial change at downtown office building [BizTimes.com]

Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are protesting a decision by Wauwatosa-based Wangard Partners to switch janitorial firms at the 875 E. Wisconsin Ave. office building in downtown Milwaukee.

Wangard recently replaced Regency Janitorial Services, a unionized janitorial firm, with a non-unionized firm. The union janitors at the building were paid $11 per hour with a modest health insurance package, according to the SEIU.

“For the past 20 years janitors fought hard to make a measly $11 an hour, and now Wangard wants to take us back to where we were,” said Pete Hanrahan, vice president of SEIU Local 1. “Wangard is picking janitors’ pockets to line his wallet.”

“We respect the role of labor unions, and we regularly use union contractors on many of the projects in which we are involved,” said Daniel Crow of Wangard Partners, the manager of the 875 E. Wisconsin Ave. building. “However, in this case, based on a review of the building regarding maintenance, we decided to seek competitive bids from both union and non-union firms for the work. Several companies responded, and we selected an organization that will help raise the quality of the maintenance work at the building. The decision on the company selected was based on merit and the ability to meet the high standards and sustainability practices we set for the care and attention we provide to our tenants.”

Source: http://www.biztimes.com/daily/2011/12/1/

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Local 1 Fall Member Newsletters – Hot off the Press!

Catch up on news from your state and around Local 1. (Each newsletter is available in multiple languages.)

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Occupy Protesters Take Over North Ave. Bridge Over I-43 [WISN.com/ABC]

MILWAUKEE — The North Avenue bridge over Interstate 43 is back open after protesters shut it down Thursday night.The protest started at Carver Park on Brown Street before moving to the bridge. The demonstrators started on the sidewalks and then moved into the middle of the bridge when there was a break in traffic.

News Chopper 12

News Chopper 12’s Matt Salemme said North Avenue was shut down between Third and 10th streets. The northbound and southbound freeway exit ramps to North Avenue were also closed. Traffic was backed up on I-43 at 5 p.m. Slideshow: Demonstrators ‘Occupy’ Bridge Over I-43 Protesters on the bridge set up four or five tents in the middle of the bridge.They said they were gathering to, declare an “economic emergency for the 99 percent.””Enough is enough,” said Dee Jeffries of Wausau, an unemployed mother of four teenagers planning to attend. “We need jobs and we need them now. The only way to make that happen is to make our voices heard and our bodies be seen.”Chief Ed Flynn spoke to the demonstrators on the bridge, saying his officers were going to protect the neighborhood.”I see a working class neighborhood that has been disrupted by people who couldn’t care less about the people who actually live here,” Flynn said. “We’re going to let them play demonstration games for a while.”As of 10 p.m., Milwaukee police said they had made six arrests. Five of the were for city disorderly conduct at the start of the protest because some cars had to take evasive action to avoid hitting them, police said.WISN 12 News crews at scene say the demonstration ended peacefully.

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Ohio voters overwhelmingly reject Issue 2, dealing a blow to Gov. John Kasich [The Plain Dealer]

By Reginald Fields, The Plain Dealer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio voters dealt a sharp rebuke to first-year Gov. John Kasich and his conservative agenda Tuesday by overwhelmingly rejecting the restrictive new collective bargaining law he championed. (more…)

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Occupy Chicago Disrupts Gov. Walker’s Speech (VIDEO) [Progress Illinois]

By Aricka Flowers, Progress Illinois

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was in Chicago yesterday to give a speech at the Union League Club on his economic policies, but protesters had something else in mind for the collective bargaining busting governor.

Just as Walker approached the microphone to give his speech, protesters from Stand Up Chicago, Occupy Chicago, and labor unions disguised as guests at the breakfast event began using the human microphone system to read a message to Walker, following it up with chants of “Union busting is disgusting!” (more…)

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19 Protesters Arrested In Front Of Ron Johnson’s Milwaukee Office [ABC – WISN.com]

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Candlelight Vigil for Jobs in Milwaukee [ABC]

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Daylife/AP: SEIU Local 1 Joins National Day of Action in Milwaukee

AP Photo

Members of a local Service Employees International Union march in downtown Milwaukee, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. The building they are in front of recently replaced union workers with non-union workers. Janitors in 22 cities were expected to hold rallies as contract expiration dates near across the country.

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