Labor Day. Many mark this weekend with end of the summer barbecues or getaways. For some of us, it’s another holiday worked, when the sickest patients remain. As health care workers who fight for our patients every day, let’s take this time to celebrate the many accomplishments we’ve made standing up for quality care, better careers, and workplaces where hard work is rewarded.
This year, workers represented by Local 1991 have enjoyed a great contract with added benefits, as well as seen the beginning of progress on important issues such as staffing ratios and safe patient handling. All of that has been made possible only with the solidarity of thousands standing together to demand better.
We’re seeing labor getting more accomplished on the national stage as well. As a result of the growing worker movement, public support for sticking together in a union is increasing.
As the Huffington Post reports that “Americans are becoming More Pro-Union,” an August Gallup poll shows Americans are once again looking to unions as a solution to our broken economy: “When times are tough, unions have always been the path to improving incomes and building a better life for working families, and today is no exception.”
The International Business Times writes that “Public Approval For Unions Continues (Its) Steady Post-Recession Rise,” Politico that “Americans’ View of Unions (Is) Improving” and the New York Daily News that unions enjoy their highest approval rating in 7 years.
State of the movement: Less than three years after the SEIU-supported Fight for $15 movement started in New York City with 200 brave fast-food workers walking off their jobs to demand a wage on which they could raise a family on and the right to form a union without retaliation, the movement is stronger than ever, and we’re seeing the results. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles passed $15 minimum wages, and New York is on the verge of approving $15 for fast-food workers. Cities in the Midwest and South have joined in, with substantial increases passing in Birmingham, Ala., and Kansas City, Mo. Major private sector corporations have gotten in as well with companies like Facebook, Ikea and Aetna having raised their hourly wage floor to $15.
The Race for 2016: Because working women and men have joined together and spoken out, elected leaders have raced to raise pay in 2015. Not only that: increasing incomes to lift up the economyhas become a key issue in the race for the White House. It’s one cornerstone of our agenda for working families headed into 2016, along with securing commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and strengthening democracy and equity in safe and just communities.
2015 victories around the country:
- Nearly 5,000 airport workers have stuck together and won the right to form a union. Nationwide, airport workers are pushing for $15 and union rights, already winning job improvements for more than 45,000 airport workers around the country.
- Some 25,000 janitors, from Chicago to Detroit to D.C, have won historic contracts. Janitors nationwide are proving that when working people stick together to #RaiseAmerica, we make underpaid-jobs good jobs. More than 50 percent of these janitors will be paid more than $15 an hour by the end of this contract cycle.
- Security officers in Indianapolis, Sacramento, Baltimore and New Jersey have won their first regional contracts. They are joining the largest union of security officers in the country with nearly 50,000 other officers and gaining crucial job improvements like guaranteed raises, quality healthcare and security and respect on the job.
- Thousands of faculty at 16 college and universities have formed unions in SEIU, including Boston University, Washington University in St. Louis and full-time contingent faculty at Tufts University. They have shifted the debate in higher education and initiated a new age of activism on college campuses: thousands of faculty have joined the Fight for 15 and set their own aspirational demand for $15,000 per course, and faculty are building a new national organization called the Faculty Forward Network that is focused on direct action and policy changes.
- The Child Care Fight for $15 gained momentum. 800 family child care providers in Rhode Island celebrated their first union contract with higher rates for infant care, education incentives, and paid vacations. Some 7,000 providers in Washington won rates increases and a half million dollar training fund.
- Nearly 50,000 home care workers in Massachusetts and Oregon have won $15, and hundreds of thousands more are fighting to win $15 in 25 cities across the country, uniting home care workers, seniors and people with disabilities in a powerful movement to transform home care.
- Some 20,000 Pennsylvania home care workers won the right to come together and negotiate improvements in quality of care, wages and benefits. And 27,000 home care workers in Minnesota won their first contract that included a paid time off provision — a first for home care workers in that state.