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After tensions over COVID safety and other issues at ERMC, cabin cleaners and management came together to hold the first of a series of informal meetings they hope will build trust and a healthier working environment. Called “Respect +Connect Meetings,” these talks between coworkers and managment aim to solve problems before they turn into crises.

IMG_2624“We started this meeting to build the relationship between workers and management so we can understand each other. We’re asking to be respected—no matter who you are or where you come from. We are a multicultural workforce and many of us speak English as a second language. The key is communication and respect.”

—Nibhan Gudle

Want to start a Connect + Respect meeting at your airport worksite? Call Marilyn Coronell at 206-448- 7348 ext 324.

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COVID safety measures were so inadequate for some Sea-Tac cabin cleaners that they had to do something. Workers faced crowded vans, crowded breakrooms, and company secrecy surrounding positive COVID cases.

After uniting around these issues and holding labor management meetings, cabin cleaners have been able to push the companies to adopt stronger worker protections. Workers speaking out played a major role, breaking the story in our newsletter, on social media, in the news and even before Congress. Selam Andarge deserves respect for testifying about her working conditions to the United States House Ways and Means Committe. Likewise, Sadia Bultum (pictured above), spoke out to CNN Travel.


IMG_2424 2“We need rules,” Bultum told CNN. “Like, avoid close contact employee-to- employee. Respect the rule of 6ft distance. Let the employees know if we’re exposed so we can quarantine. Keep the breakroom clean and our areas clean and disinfected.”

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 IMG_2625SEIU6 janitors and security officers made history in 2019 when we pushed for greater protections against workplace sexual harassment and assault. Our brave members spoke out in the media and before the Washington State legislature to help pass ESSB 5258, a law that aims to keep workers safe, especially those who work in isolated settings.

The new law requires employers do the following:

—Adopt a sexual harassment policy.
—Require training for all employees, including managers, supervisors, and foremen.
—Provide a list of resources to employees on federal, state, and local enforcement and advocacy groups to reach out to if sexual harassment occurs.
—Provide a panic button to all janitors, hotel housekeepers, and other isolated workers. (Security officers are exempt from this requirement since they already carry similar equipment.)

The new panic button is intended for janitors to use to call for help in case of emergency. If you have questions about how your employer is using it, please contact our union by calling your organizer, sending us a message on Facebook, or calling our main line at (206) 448-7348.

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Mison & Espy BARBERS
The barbers at JBLM had long enjoyed good contracts with strong union rights. That changed 2 1/2 years ago, when their contract was taken over by a new company. The new boss cut their pay, eliminated their credit card tips, and tried to pit them against each other—all to break their union.

“He came in here with an iron fist,” said Batista. “He had the military police called on us twice in one week, accused us of stealing. It was so stressful. I had a panic attack and had to go to the hospital. My husband and my children are all military. They told me to quit my job. But I couldn’t let someone wreck our lives like that.”

“When he cut our pay, some barbers lost their homes. We fought as a union and won the money back. But in 6 months, he ruined some people’s lives,” said Mamerto.

But the barbers were relentless, tenacious—and united. Our union filed dozens of NLRB charges until the employer finally lost the contract, and a new employer took over. Now the barbers are negotiating a contract that will secure their fair pay and the respect they deserve.

“It’s like people say, United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Support your coworkers and know that your union is your backbone. Don’t ever think, ‘Oh I’m poor, my family is poor,’ or you will stay at the bottom for life. If you have the support of your family and friends, you can change the world,” said Batista.

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little janitorBack in 2018, SEIU6 janitors spoke
out in Olympia and in the media
to draw attention to the issue of
unmanageable workloads in janitorial. Lawmakers listened, and now L & I is conducting a janitorial workload study.

The next phase of the study is a statewide survey. All janitors should watch their mail for a letter from SHARP with a PIN#. Be sure to keep this PIN—it will allow you to take the survey, either on paper or online.

Janitors who fill out and send in their surveys will get a $15 gift card.

The more we speak up about workload, the stronger our chances of making a change.

Questions about the workload study? Call Matt at 800 2387348 0r 2064487348 ext 307




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How to Apply for Free College through SEIU: An interview with SEIU6 security officer Clarissa Valdez

Clarissa ValdezSEIU6: How did you hear about the SEIU Free College Benefit?

Valdez: I heard about it from an SEIU email.

SEIU6: What are you studying in college?

Valdez: Business Administration with a focus on Information Systems. I’d like to become an IT specialist.

SEIU6: What’s it like taking all your classes online?

Valdez: The classes can be rigorous and you have to motivate yourself. It’s more interactive than you’d think. People want to help each other, so it’s easy to make study buddies. It’s mainly adult learners who are changing careers.

SEIU6: Is it hard balancing work and college?

Valdez: It’s made me a better officer because I have to manage my time carefully. It’s made me sharpen my skills and my focus, and figure out what works for my learning style.

SEIU6: How was the application process?

Valdez: Easy. I hadn’t filled out a FAFSA in a long time, but it wasn’t hard. Once my paperwork was submitted, the program administrators were quick to reach out to me and they’ve been very helpful and supportive. You get the feeling that the folks behind the SEIU Free College Program really want you to succeed.


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SEIU History

BSEIU copy

  • In 1921, members of seven small janitor unions dared to dream they could build their strength by forming a single organization, the Building Service Employees International Union. A union of mostly immigrant workers chartered by the then-AFL, BSEIU was primarily organized janitors and window washers in its early years. In addition to these, it eventually organized a range of other service workers, including doormen, elevator operators, nonacademic school employees, healthcare workers and public employees as well as service workers based in bowling alleys, stadiums and cemeteries, to mention just a few.
  • The BSEIU changed its name to Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 1968. Chicago-based Local 1, SEIU’s first local union, is still organizing janitors and security officers today.
  • In the years during and following the Great Depression, the union was the first in the country to help other service workers like hospital caregivers and public employees unite together in a union, paving the way for the modern SEIU’s three core industries: property servicespublic services and health care. In 1968, the union was renamed the Service Employees International Union to reflect its membership and key sectors.
  • SEIU’s membership has grown from 625,000 in 1980 to more than 2.1 million today. At a time when the majority of organized labor was shrinking, SEIU was aggressively uniting workers’ strength – largely in the fast-growing service industries. In 2000, SEIU had united 1.4 million members, to became the largest and fastest growing union in North America.
  • SEIU represents more immigrants than any other union, and its membership is among the most diverse in the labor movement. Since 1996, over 1.2 million workers have united with SEIU, many of them women and people of color. Also that year, SEIU officers also committed to diversify the union’s leadership to reflect the membership, and today, more than 50 percent of SEIU members are in local unions led by a woman or person of color.
  • Following the 2004 presidential elections, SEIU launched a widely publicized dialogue to help rebuild the labor movement following several decades of decline. Despite massive economic changes in our world today, the strategies, structure, and priorities of the AFL-CIO, and many unions, haven’t changed much since the federation was founded 50 years ago – prompting SEIU and four major unions to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO in the summer of 2005 and build something stronger to help unite the 90 percent of workers who have no union.
  • At a historic founding convention in St. Louis on September 27, 2005, SEIU, along with 6 other unions representing 5.5 million workers–the Teamsters, UNITE HERE, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Laborers, the Carpenters and the United Farm Workers–formed the Change to Win Federation to develop joint strategic organizing campaigns to help ensure that workers, not just executives and stockholders, benefit from today’s global economy. With a key focus to unite non-union workers by industry, the new federation aims to empower working people in this country so that they can build the strength to make their voices heard in their jobs, their communities, and in Washington. The delegates elected SEIU’s Anna Burger as CTW federation chair – making her the first woman in U.S. history to ever head a labor federation.
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