service employees international unions

“Often times we hear about women's rights and women of color are left out. A lot of black women, Latina women, Asian women [and] gender-nonconforming people have been organizing, taking a stance and inserting themselves into this conversation we're having about women's rights.”

— Paula Muñoz, a 24-year-old organizer with the Service Employees International Union in Miramar, Florida

Meet 3 women who are striking against Trump in places where their voices often go unheard

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Hundreds Of Thousands Of Workers Will Strike May 1, Organizers Say
A major union local and a coalition of worker centers have voted to strike on International Workers Day, calling for others to join.
By Cora Lewis

Almost 350,000 service workers plan to strike on May 1, a traditional day for labor activism across the world, in the most direct attempt yet by organized labor to capture the energy from a resurgent wave of activism across the country since the election of Donald Trump.

Tens of thousands of members of a powerful California branch of the Service Employees International Union will participate in the strike, according to David Huerta, the president of the chapter.

“We understand that there’s risk involved in that,” Huerta told BuzzFeed News, “but we’re willing to take that risk in order to be able to move forward in this moment, while the most marginalized are in the crosshairs of this administration.”

Since Donald Trump’s election, there has been no shortage of wildcat strikes by groups disproportionately affected by his administration’s policies. But this time around, organized labor is driving the effort. According to a coalition of groups leading the strike, more than 300,000 food chain workers and 40,000 unionized service workers have said they will walk off the job so far.

Huerta’s union chapter represents tens of thousands of workers, including janitors, security officers and airport staff, while the Food Chain Workers Alliance, which represents workers throughout the food industry, says hundreds of thousands of its non-unionized members have committed to striking.

“We are a workforce made up mostly of immigrants, women, African Americans, and indigenous people….Without workers, who does Trump think will harvest the crops, craft the food, transport it to market, stock the shelves, cook in kitchens, and serve the meals?”

It’s on!
Unions Representing A Million Teachers Are Standing Up For This Transgender Student
They told the Supreme Court in a brief Thursday, “Educators are, above all, advocates and protectors of their students.”
By Dominic Holden

This is great news.

The brief makes a strong argument for why trans inclusion is vital for trans students and how it generally benefits school communities. That’s especially important coming from this wide ranging group of educators. But honestly I think the case for why trans students deserve these rights and protections is pretty strong. The bigger question is whether that protection can and should come through Title IX. That’s a harder argument (and the reason why this case is sitting before the Supreme Court). And what I think may be the most important part of this brief in making that determination is this section:

Should the Court conclude that transgender discrimination is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX, the teacher’s duty is clear: address and report the harassment. But if the Court were to adopt the view of a minority of the lower courts—that Title IX may prohibit some but not all forms of discrimination against transgender students—then teachers are left in the lurch. What are their duties to transgender students and when are they triggered? Must teachers parse the harasser’s motivation to determine whether the harassment is motivated by sex stereotypes or transgender animus? This is complicated by Petitioner’s assertion that non-discrimination against transgender students “would perpetuate discrimination in a different form” against other students. If that were true, how would educators prevent and remedy sex stereotyping discrimination or harassment against transgender students while avoiding discrimination against others?

Making the case for clarity might just be significant nudge for a few (*cough* Kennedy *cough*) justices. And like with the Obergefell same-sex marriage ruling I’m hopeful that concerns raised over harm to students will win out over the case for letting this continue to play itself out across the country at the national, state, and local level. We’ll see how the Supreme Court views this soon. Hearing start on the 28th.

Thanks to the educators and school staff represented by the National Education Association; the American Federation of Teachers; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; Service Employees International Union; and the School Social Work Association of America.


LA activists declare “state of emergency” after Carnell Snell Jr. police shooting

A coalition of prominent activist and labor groups in Los Angeles declared on a “state of emergency” for the southern California city on Thursday, citing the lack of accountability and transparency in the use of lethal force by the Los Angeles Police Department against Carnell Snell Jr., an 18-year-old black man, in late September.

In an open letter issued jointly, the group, which includes the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter, the Advancement Project of California and local branches of the Service Employees International Union, among others, called on Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council to conduct open and independent investigations of lethal force cases and to decriminalize peaceful protests, among other demands.

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Bernie Sanders Takes on Clinton Welfare Legacy as He Woos Iowa Unions
Hillary Clinton's leading challenger is in Iowa to address local AFL-CIO convention.

Bernie Sanders says both Clintons made a mistake on welfare reform.

In an phone interview Thursday with Bloomberg, the Democratic presidential candidate said that history will not look kindly on the 1996 overhaul of the New Deal anti-poverty program, which then-President Bill Clinton enacted over the objections of many liberal Democrats, including Sanders, who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time. Sanders’ chief rival for the Democratic nomination, front-runner Hillary Clinton, wrote in her 2003 book, Living History, that she supported the bill, despite some concerns, because she “felt, on balance, that this was a historic opportunity to change a system oriented toward dependence to one that encouraged independence.”

Asked about that position in May, a Clinton campaign spokesperson told Bloomberg she “has a long record fighting for everyday Americans and their families, and she is running to make sure all families are not only able to get ahead, but stay ahead.”

Clinton wrote that she “worked hard to round up votes” for the her husband’s legislation, which imposed time limits on welfare benefits and work requirements on beneficiaries.

In his own book in 1997, Sanders called the bill “the grand slam of scapegoating legislation…" Now a U.S. senator from Vermont, he doubled down on that assessment in his interview with Bloomberg. “I think that history will suggest that that legislation has not worked terribly well,” he said, arguing that too many politicians would rather target the poor than poverty.  

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How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election
Across battlegrounds, Democrats blame HQ’s stubborn commitment to a one-size-fits-all strategy.

Everybody could see Hillary Clinton was cooked in Iowa. So when, a week-and-a-half out, the Service Employees International Union started hearing anxiety out of Michigan, union officials decided to reroute their volunteers, giving a desperate team on the ground around Detroit some hope.

They started prepping meals and organizing hotel rooms.

SEIU — which had wanted to go to Michigan from the beginning, but been ordered not to — dialed Clinton’s top campaign aides to tell them about the new plan. According to several people familiar with the call, Brooklyn was furious.

Turn that bus around, the Clinton team ordered SEIU. Those volunteers needed to stay in Iowa to fool Donald Trump into competing there, not drive to Michigan, where the Democrat’s models projected a 5-point win through the morning of Election Day.

Michigan organizers were shocked. It was the latest case of Brooklyn ignoring on-the-ground intel and pleas for help in a race that they felt slipping away at the end.

“They believed they were more experienced, which they were. They believed they were smarter, which they weren’t,” said Donnie Fowler, who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee during the final months of the campaign. “They believed they had better information, which they didn’t.”

Flip Michigan and leave the rest of the map, and Trump is still president-elect. But to people who worked in that state and others, how Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million votes and lost by 100,000 in states that could have made her president has everything to do with what happened in Michigan. Trump won the state despite getting 30,000 fewer votes than George W. Bush did when he lost it in 2004.

The anecdotes are different but the narrative is the same across battlegrounds, where Democratic operatives lament a one-size-fits-all approach drawn entirely from pre-selected data — operatives spit out “the model, the model,” as they complain about it — guiding Mook’s decisions on field, television, everything else. That’s the same data operation, of course, that predicted Clinton would win the Iowa caucuses by 6 percentage points (she scraped by with two-tenths of a point), and that predicted she’d beat Bernie Sanders in Michigan (he won by 1.5 points).

“I’ve never seen a campaign like this,” said Virgie Rollins, a Democratic National Committee member and longtime political hand in Michigan who described months of failed attempts to get attention to the collapse she was watching unfold in slow-motion among women and African-American millennials.

…Nor did Brooklyn ask for help from some people who’d been expecting the call. Sanders threw himself into campaign appearances for Clinton throughout the fall, but familiar sources say the campaign never asked the Vermont senator’s campaign aides for help thinking through Michigan, Wisconsin or anywhere else where he had run strong. It was already November when the campaign finally reached out to the White House to get President Barack Obama into Michigan, a state that he’d worked hard and won by large margins in 2008 and 2012.

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REMINDER: We are not sharing this information for fun or to start intra-left fights. These are learnable mistakes we will need to learn as we implement a fifty state strategy to rebuild the party. High on the list has to be listening to state party leaders and the grassroots activists.

100 arrested near McDonald’s headquarters in protest over low pay
May 22, 2014

McDonald’s closed part of its corporate headquarters on Wednesday in response to a mass protest by workers and activists that campaigners say ended in over 100 arrests.

Over 2,000 people calling for a hike in the minimum wage and the right to form a union without retaliation descended on the fast food giant’s suburban Chicago headquarters in what is believed to be the largest demonstration McDonald’s has ever faced.

Chanting, “Hey McDonald’s You Can’t Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side,” and “No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize,” protesters blocked the entrance to McDonald’s campus in Oakbrook, some 20 miles outside Chicago.

A short walk from Hamburger University, McDonald’s training center, the protesters were confronted by a phalanx of police officers in riot gear. After they sat down the police issued two orders to disperse and arrests began.

McDonald’s workers, church leaders and Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry were among those arrested.

Some 500 fast-food workers from three dozen cities as well as local church groups, union activists and community groups were present at the demonstration. It came a day before the fast food company’s annual meeting when dissident shareholders intend to vote against CEO Donald Thompson’s $9.5m pay package. Protesters also plan to picket that meeting, from which media have been excluded.

Activists said the company feared a “public relations minefield” and had sent workers home in order to derail the protest. Protesters moved their demonstration to another nearby McDonald’s corporate facility.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman said the company had taken the decision to close the a building on its campus that holds 2,000 staff after consultation with police. The building was close to a busy intersection and the company was concerned about the disruption the protesters could cause to traffic. She said staff continued to work from home.

Restaurant and retail workers are calling for a minimum wage of $15 per hour. The latest protest is one of a series aimed at fueling a national debate on income inequality and comes after a report from the Demos thinktank showed that fast-food companies had the largest gap between the pay of CEOs and workers of any industry. The report found that the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio for the fast-food industry was more than 1,000-to-one in 2013.

Amanda Wenninghoff, 28, has been working for McDonald’s in Kansas City for 10 years and travelled to Chicago to call for a wage rise. She earns $8 an hour and said she hadn’t had a wage raise since 2003.

“I have lived in my car with my kids because I haven’t had the wages to support a place for us to live,” she told the Guardian. “I have friends who need life-saving surgery they can’t afford.”

She said McDonald’s offered health insurance, but it would cost $400 a month for her alone –about half her monthly salary. “It would be impossible for me to get by without government assistance,” she said. “The least they can do is pay us enough money so we can afford to live instead of putting it on the taxpayers.”

McDonald’s worker Ashona Osborne, 24, travelled from Pittsburgh to protest. She makes $7.25 an hour and said her wages had been cut since she had started to protest.

“I need better support for me and my family,” she said. “It’s not just McDonald’s, I have been working on minimum wage since I was 16 and it’s very, very difficult. I have decide which priority to take care of, which bill can I pay.”

She said Thompson $9.5m pay package worked out at about $6,600 an hour. “He makes more money than me on the way to work,” she said. “That’s ridiculous. They can afford to give me more money. If it weren’t for us workers there would be no McDonald’s, no Burger King, no Wendy’s.”

On Thursday, shareholder activist Change to Win Investment Group (Ctw) is organising a vote against Thompson, who took over as CEO in 2012. It follows similar protests against CEO pay at other restaurant groups including Domino’s and Chipotle.

Earlier this month, 77% of Chipotle shareholders voted against the compensation packages of co-CEOs Steve Ells and Monty Moran, worth $25.1m and $24.4m respectively in 2013. The vote, which is non-binding and was also organised by CtW, has prompted a review of compensation at the company.

The pressure for change comes as President Obama has pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from the current $7.25. The move is being challenged by Republicans and by lobbyists for the restaurant industry who claim it will cost jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that there are 3.5m fast-food and counter workers in the US, and they earn a median hourly wage of $8.83 – almost $18,400 per year based on a 40-hour work week without vacation.

Earlier this year the Congressional Budget Office said a hike in the minimum wage to $10.10 would cost 500,000 jobs by 2016 but boost earnings for about 16.5 million low-wage workers. The National Restaurant Association said the report was proof that a wage hike was detrimental for the economy.

“The restaurant industry provides real pathways to the middle class and beyond, and dramatic increases in the minimum wage will only hinder our ability to provide stepping stones for those who need it most,” the association said in a statement.


The Biggest Fast Food Strike in History Was About More Than a $15 Minimum Wage

Just after 6 AM on Wednesday morning, hundreds of protesters flooded onto one of Brooklyn’s busier intersections outside a McDonald’s, chanting and marching for $15-an-hour wages. It was the first of a daylong series of demonstrations against low wages that organizers were calling “the most widespread mobilization ever by US workers seeking higher pay"—a mass coordinated action that was expected to spread across more than 200 US cities and include some 60,000 demonstrators.

It was the largest effort yet for the campaign known as Fight for $15 , which began in 2012 with a fast-food employees strike in New York City and has since expanded into a broader economic justice protest movement, encompassing a range of low-wage workers, from Walmart cashiers to home health care aides and adjunct professors at universities. In the last three years, the crusade has picked up momentum globally, backed by millions of dollars from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of America’s largest labor unions.


McDonald's workers descend on headquarters to protest 'poverty wages'

Activists and workers converge near the McDonald’s campus in Oak Brook, Illinois, during an SEIU-backed Fight for $15 rally on Wednesday. Photograph: Antonio Perez/Zuma Press/Corbis

Employees chant ‘We work, we sweat, put $15 in our cheque’ in biggest protest by low-wage workers as board faces angry shareholders inside closed meetings

Thousands of McDonald’s employees and union activists descended on the company’s headquarters near Chicago on Thursday to hold the biggest ever protest against “poverty wages” paid to most of its 400,000 employees, as the company’s board gathered for its annual shareholder meeting.

About 5,000 McDonald’s employees from across the US chanted: “We work, we sweat, put $15 in our cheque” as they marched towards the burger giant’s headquarters holding banners reading “McDonald’s: $15 and Union Rights, Not Food Stamps.”

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Thursday 21st May, 2015. ahead of shareholders meet, mcdonald workers gather at headquarters

                                                                                                                                 “We’re here to tell McDonald’s and its shareholders to invest in the company and its workers instead of wealthy hedge fund managers and executives,” said Kwanza Brooks, a McDonald’s worker and mother of three from Charlotte, North Carolina, who is paid $7.25 an hour. “We’re tired of relying on food stamps to feed our own families. We need $15 and the right to form a union and we need it now.”

Ahead of the meeting McDonald’s dismissed the demonstrations as a publicity campaign by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is working to organize workers across the fast-food industry.

“The union has spent its members’ dues money in the past two years attacking the McDonald’s brand…in an unsuccessful attempt to unionize workers,” the company said in a statement.

Many of the protesters arrived on Wednesday and held a rally outside McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, a suburb about 20 miles west of Chicago. On stage, Adriana Alvarez, one of 101 McDonald’s workers arrested for protesting at the meeting last year, said: “We’re here to make it clear to McDonald’s that we want $15 and union rights. We don’t need food stamps, and we definitely don’t want buybacks [in which the company buys its own shares to benefit shareholders].”

Alvarez, who has worked at McDonald’s for five years, said she is paid so little that she needs food stamps and Medicaid to care for her three-year-old son, Manny.

The company, which has taken the highly unusual step of banning the media from the meeting, on Wednesday closed many of its corporate offices and its on-site restaurant and removed “Golden Arches” flags from its properties.

The protesters will on Thursday deliver a petition with more than 1m signatures calling on the McDonald’s board to raise pay and respect union rights.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU, said: “It’s time for McDonald’s to respect the workers on the frontlines as much as they have respected shareholders by putting $30bn in their pockets over the last 10 years.”

As well as pressure on the streets outside, McDonald’s will face tough questions from its shareholders, who are angry at the company’s failure to keep up with the changing tastes of consumers.

Shareholders will also demand changes at the top of the company, after analysis by the Guardian revealed the the extent of board’s tight-knit culture. According to an analysis of public records, the fast-food giant, which controls more than 35,000 restaurants in 119 countries, is run by a coterie of long-serving insiders whose relationships raise “very big red flags”, according to critics.

Gary Hewitt, head of corporate governance research at responsible investment firm Sustainalytics, on Thursday added to the growing concern over McDonald’s insular management.

“Zero board members have direct experience either as executive or director within the restaurant or mass retail industries,” Hewitt said. “More than two-thirds of board members have served 10 years. Not only does this potentially affect the independence of the overall board and its committees, it also highlights the lack of a refreshment policy. Nationality diversity is also a weak spot, with the board being dominated by directors from the US, in contrast with the company’s broad international revenues. In light of the considerable competitive and innovation challenges facing the company, fresher and varied perspectives at the board level would help support the new CEO’s innovation agenda.”

While the company controls restaurants in 119 countries, only two of McDonald’s board members are non-US nationals.

We can have good jobs and healthy communities

Our families and children deserve clean air and water and we must do all that we can to stop allowing corporations to corrupt our livelihood unchecked. Where possible, we must choose clean alternative options so that our economy and our families can thrive. It is not a one or the other choice. We can have good jobs and healthy communities by shifting away from an economy dependent on fossil fuels to one that creates jobs for workers through a just transition to a clean energy economy.

We can and must be the change we want to see in the world and we have the chance to do it right now. In North and South Dakota, construction of a crude-oil pipeline, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline, threatens the lives and livelihoods of the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The pipeline would pass under the Missouri River (at Lake Oahe) which is just half a mile upstream from the boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation and provides their drinking water.

Over the last three years there have been over 200 known pipeline leaks in the United States. A spill at this site would be a health, economic and cultural catastrophe for Standing Rock Sioux families. Further, the pipeline would pass through incredibly precious culturally significant sacred lands, like burial grounds, for the tribe and infringe on their freedom to practice and protect their culture and beliefs.

We are so proud that our union, the Service Employees International Union, along with other labor unions, didn’t stand idly by and let this injustice prevail. Instead SEIU along with like-minded good jobs and justice-focused partners have stood strong with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Not only do the Standing Rock Sioux deserve the respect and protection of their sacred grounds, but they deserve to know the water they are drinking is uncontaminated and safe. This is yet another instance where a low income, community of color is subjected to contamination at the hands of powerful corporations and an unresponsive government.    

[image description: a photograph of Donna Mazapeta-Firesteel with the words “We need to stop this pipeline of mother earth and for children that are not yet born”- Mazapeta-Firesteel, LPN at Health Partners, SEIU HCMN Member]

Bernie Sanders: "I'll Probably Vote for Clinton" - #FeelTheBummer

Bernie Sanders said in a CNN interview earlier this morning, Friday, June 24th, in all likelihood, he will vote for Hillary Clinton. What a god damn bummer.

We don’t get very many real leftists in the general election. Last was Ralph Nader in 2000. Nader’s run ended with him being blackballed from the democratic party; which had previously worked with the independent since his inception into national politics in the mid 60’s when he single-handedly exposed the automotive industry’s blatant disregard for it’s consumers’ safety with his book Unsafe at Any Speed. And I’m sure, in similar fashion, Sanders was asked to play ball or else; which meant mobilize his large portion of the youth vote in an act of solidarity against the certain destruction that would follow a Donald Trump presidency. After all, we don’t need another Bush fiasco.

Well I call bullshit on Sanders playing ball. Hillary doesn’t need his portion of the youth vote. She has the machinery of the big blue behind her, and Trump is as likely to win the presidential election as Gary Johnson. This is all grandstanding. 

Democratic presidential candidate Clinton laughs at a Service Employees International Union roundtable on Home Care at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in Los Angeles

First… this issue of the legitimacy of a Donald Trump campaign. He has created strong branding for the secured voting demographic of forty-five years and older who are mobilized by fear, tax breaks, xenophobia, nationalism, and just pure bigotry. This demo always votes right. This demo is scared of young faces and young ideas. This demo doesn’t care about the inconsistencies or lack of continuity in a candidate’s history and life with their campaign promises and narratives. As long as the strong talking points are motivated by the weird narrative of, This is mine. It was better in the past. Heritage, not hate. Poor people are lazy or millionaires waiting in line for their chance to step up and become the meglomaniac that we all have learned to worship in western culture. Outside of that demo and the contrarian independents who just want to watch the world get butthurt, he ain’t got shit. If the man wins, it’ll be because the left or morally woke doesn’t show up to vote.

Second… Sanders didn’t need to state who he was voting for when he is still vocally adamant about not endorsing Clinton till she commits to a portion of his talking points and campaign focuses. If he is telling the press he will vote for Clinton, then the deed is done. He has no bargaining chips anymore. Sanders said that shit and now I’m here writing about the death of the Sanders influence. I’ve had five discussions today about this already and I’ve been awake for two hours. He has traded in his name for a more secure route for Clinton’s presidency.

Third… what the fuck is the point of voting Democrat if you’re voting for a moderate Republican in blue?

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