SEIU Blog - Service Employees International Union

This week was the 25th anniversary of Justice for Janitors Day. Communities nationwide are celebrating this moment all week through candle light vigils, marches, and by sharing their personal stories.

Read Lalo's journey, from an activist among his colleagues to an activist for his whole community and immigration reform."

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Eduardo "Lalo" Garcia worked two jobs just to make ends meet. He was a gardener in the morning, putting in a full eight-hour day, and then would go to his second job in the evenings as a janitor.

It was not until 2001, when he and his coworkers organized together and formed a union - securing full time hours with benefits - that Lalo was able to leave his daytime job and focus just on his work as a janitor.

Through this experience, Lalo learned how to fight for the issues that were important to him and his community. "I have learned to encourage other people," Lalo reflects. "Because as an immigrant, I know you don't have to be afraid."

He became a leader in his community, fighting for immigration reform and against companies that want to implement harmful programs like E-Verify.

"Many people think, 'I don't have any documents. I can't do anything,'" he stated. "But on the contrary, we left our countries because of bad politics, and from a bad government where we had no jobs. So to come here... and do nothing? Well we can't go from one border to another looking for dignity and respect."

As 5 million immigrants stand to benefit from executive action by President Obama under the DACA and DAPA programs, it's now more important than ever to leaders like Lalo that more people are participating in the conversation and fighting for permanent solutions like immigration reform.

To Lalo, raising America means elevating each one of our voices. It means holding corporations accountable for making billions at the expense of exploited working families. It means raising standards so that every mother, father, and friend can raise a family, save for retirement, and thrive, not merely survive.

- Eduardo "Lalo" Garcia is originally from the state of Morelos, Mexico, and immigrated to the U.S. in 2000. He lives in Santa Ana, California and works as a janitor with SEIU-USWW.

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12:46 PM Eastern - Thursday, June 18, 2015

The fate of Obamacare → Be the first to know #default

Sign up to receive text messages with breaking news on the Supreme Court's decision on King v. Burwell and access to health careWill the Supreme Court take away our affordable health care?

Incredibly, that's what's at stake in King v. Burwell--a lawsuit extremist Republicans are supporting that's designed to bring down the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Be among the first to know what the Court decides. Text SCOTUS to 787753 to receive breaking text message alerts on the Supreme Court's decision about our access to healthcare.

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4:14 PM Eastern - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"I used to make $15 and a union." #default

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"I used to make nearly $15 and a union. But in order to turn bigger profits, corporations slashed my wages and benefits. I lost my car, I had to move my children to a dangerous neighborhood, and now I survive on public assistance. That's why I fight for $15--because I've seen the union difference."

Niya Reed - a mother of four and a native of Detroit - worked for 14 years as a janitor in Detroit, but has lost two jobs in the past few years as building owners chose to hire non-union contractors.

Once the birthplace of the American labor movement, Detroit is now in very real danger of losing its high standards. Even though hard work is generating billions in profits here in Detroit, powerful corporations are using their influence to push down wages and benefits here and across the country.

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In the five years since the Affordable Care Act became law, Republicans have waged an all-out war to repeal all or parts of the historic law that has given millions of American access to lifesaving healthcare for the first time.

What's worse, even though they have voted 56 times to repeal it, Republicans have not offered a plausible proposal to strengthen or improve the law or lower American's healthcare costs.

Whether through an act of Congress, or through repeated lawsuits in the nation's courts, Republicans are putting politics over the health of Americans.

The current case of King v. Burwell soon to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court is just the latest example of attempts by extremist Republicans to throw our healthcare system into a tail spin. If successful, single parents, small business owners and older adults, would lose the tax credits that make purchasing healthcare premiums within reach. Hardworking women and men would go back to living in fear of the one accident or illness that would force them into medical bankruptcy.

Watch this new video that illustrates just how hell-bent Republican extremists have been when it comes to repealing Obamacare. [Share it on Facebook here].


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House Republicans have released a spending plan that undermines the agencies charged with protecting workers' rights to fair pay and overtime, making sure workers can bargain collectively for higher pay and better benefits and providing healthcare to tens of millions of Americans. It's a terrible bill, and every member of Congress should reject it.

We have known for months that Republicans would underfund the vital services working families need. Among other things, the bill cuts funding for Pell grants and the National Labor Relations Board and even zeroes out funds that provides health care to low-income women. For these reasons alone, it should be rejected.

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3:59 PM Eastern - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade proposal threatens SEIU members #default

The Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive new international trade agreement being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. This would be the largest trade agreement in U.S. history, covering approximately 40% of the global economy.

The defining issues of our time are inequality, stagnant wages and lack of good jobs. And U.S. trade policy, as it has been pursued since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and as it is currently conceived in TPP, is a big contributor to all of these problems.

For more than 20 years, trade deals in United States have served corporate interests. The goal was not to promote American exports. Instead, the aim was to make it easier for global corporations to move resources offshore and ship goods back to America, ultimately creating corporate-friendly rules for the global economy. The outcomes have been lost jobs, unprecedented trade deficits and falling wages.

One of the industries most damaged by past trade agreements has been apparel and textiles.

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11:00 PM Eastern - Sunday, June 14, 2015

Justice for Janitors: 25 Years of Raising America #default

25 years ago, janitors fighting for a better life were attacked on the streets by LA police. What began as a peaceful protest by janitors and their allies, quickly devolved into a nightmare.

That day, though horrific, became a flashpoint for the Justice for Janitors movement, launching it into the national spotlight, and ultimately improving the lives of more than 130,000 janitors and their families.

At the time, no one believed the janitors could win. But we persevered; winning wage increases, full family health coverage, sick days and more.

Today we're still fighting, right alongside fast food workers, airport workers, security officers, and adjunct professors. We fight because 42% of the American workforce is paid less than $15 an hour - not nearly enough to live on!

I was not there in 1990, but I am proud to continue their legacy right in my hometown of Detroit. We have won before, and I know we will win again.

Celebrate with me and share the Justice for Janitors Day history below. Celebrate to remember those who fought so hard 25 years ago, and to provide hope for those who fight tirelessly today.

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10:15 AM Eastern - Friday, June 5, 2015

Tell the New York wage board to raise fast-food pay TODAY #default

Tell the New York wage board it's TIME to lead the nation to $15 an hour.New Yorkers are on the verge of creating a lot more jobs that boost their state's economy. You and I can help them do it.

In New York, 180,000 fast food workers could finally be paid enough to afford more of their basic needs - $15 an hour!

But we can't celebrate yet. Because whether or not this slice of the American Dream becomes a reality largely depends on how much broad public support we can show for this initiative.

Tell the New York wage board it's TIME to lead the nation to $15 an hour.

Today is the very first hearing of the newly-formed NY fast food wage board, which NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo created to decide whether to raise the minimum wage for NY fast-food workers. This is another sign of how the working people building the Fight for $15 movement are making real change and raising the wage floor.

If we can make this historic victory a reality in New York, it will ripple across the country. And that's been our goal from the start. Because if we can win $15 in New York, it will make it easier for workers in retail, home care, child care and other industries to win raises in their workplaces.

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7:41 PM Eastern - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Patriot Employer Tax Credit Act shows Fight for $15 has attention of Congress #default

Say THANK YOU to Sen. Durbin, Sen. Brown and Rep. Schakowsky for helping to bring the groundswell of support behind $15 an hour to the halls of Congress.On June 2, Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), Sen. Sherrod Brown (IL) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) introduced the Patriot Employer Tax Credit Act, legislation that would provide tax credits to employers that pay at least 90% of their U.S. workers an hourly wage equal to 156% of poverty for a family of three (about $15 an hour).

In response, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement:

"This bill would encourage employers to do the right thing and pay the working men and women who generate their profits a wage they can live on. It's the latest evidence that working people are winning -- that their Fight for $15 and union rights has the momentum to change the lives of millions of underpaid workers. The goal of $15 an hour has become a reality in cities and workplaces across the country, and we applaud Sen. Durbin, Sen. Brown and Rep. Schakowsky for standing with these workers and fighting to make sure we have the good jobs our economy needs.

"Thousands of cooks and cashiers, home care and child care workers, airport workers, adjunct professors and other working people have joined together and taken to the streets to say that we need an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. That starts with raising wages so that everyday people make enough to make a living.

"As thousands of fast-food workers gather for their second national convention this weekend, their voices are louder than ever, and those voices are being heard. They won't stop, and we won't stop, until everyone who works earns enough to provide for their family and live a decent life. This bill is another important step toward that goal."

Add your name to say THANK YOU to Sen. Durbin, Sen. Brown and Rep. Schakowsky for helping to bring the groundswell of support behind $15 an hour to the halls of Congress.

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Newly reaffirmed union member and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank discusses how unions are reasserting themselves, and that Americans have a growing favorable impression of labor, in his column today. Linking inequality with the decline in union membership, he writes:

"There are many causes of growing inequality--globalization, education disparities, tax policy--but an International Monetary Fund study released in March found that the decline in union membership has been responsible for half of the rise in the share of income going to the top 10 percent of earners in advanced economies between 1980 and 2010. Declining union membership, by weakening the bargaining power of low- and middle-income workers at both union and nonunion businesses, has increased the share of wealth going to corporate higher-ups and shareholders.

"Straws in the wind suggest a building backlash. On Tuesday, Los Angeles approved a $15 minimum wage, joining more than 17 states and several municipalities that have raised their minimum wages since 2013. Fast food and retail employers, under pressure, have announced increases in low wages covering some 2 million workers."

Milbank says he is once again a card-carrying member of CWA Local 32035: "Rejoining the labor movement is my small, symbolic protest." Read his entire Washington Post column here.

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