The Worker: Yolanda McGrone, Bus Aide
What She Won: In November, after striking for 11 days, Chicago Public Schools staff and teachers won caps on class sizes, a nurse and social worker in every school, more librarians, raises and more.
The wage increases were important to SEIU Local 73 member Yolanda McGrone, who has been a CPS bus aide for more than 20 years earning a salary of under $16,000 a year. She wakes up every school day at 3:45am to work a three-hour morning route and then works a three-hour evening route ensuring special education students get to school and home safely. In between her split shift she works as a home health caregiver for two different agencies. Then on Friday nights she works yet another job from 7pm to 7am.
Still, all those jobs last year didn’t always enable her to make ends meet. She had to live in her car for three months and make arrangements for her sons to stay with family members. “I don’t want anyone to experience what I experienced,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair ...for city workers to have to live in poverty, to either have to be homeless, living in a car or living with other family members due to inadequate hours and inadequate pay.”
Uniting together and taking action meant big and life-changing improvements for both Chicago school workers and the students and families they serve.