As our community deals with the fallout from the police killing of George Floyd, we will use this page for various updates and statements our union has made around this issue. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
Initial Statement the Day After The Killing
SEIU Responds to Police Killing in Minneapolis
“Our Union fights so every family – no matter our job, race, gender, birthplace or religion – can live a safe and happy life. Systematic police violence against communities of color, especially the black community, in Minnesota and across our country is making that reality impossible for too many.
“On Monday, George Floyd, a black Minnesotan, was killed by a Minneapolis Police officer. His face was pinned to the ground for almost five minutes by a white police officer as he repeated, ‘I can’t breath.’ As a community, we are outraged and horrified by another unjust killing of a black man by the police. We call on the City of Minneapolis to take immediate and appropriate action.
“We firmly believe that we must continue to dismantle the systematic racism and persecution of black lives. To everyone hurting and to everyone ready to fight for a better future, we stand with you.”
Demands onMike Freeman to Act
Our community can’t begin to address the pain and harm caused by George Floyd’s killing until the four officers responsible are brought to justice.
SEIU continues to be ready to fight for systematic change to address anti-black racism, but we can’t begin that process until the four officers responsible are arrested and charged.
Our Union demands immediate arrests and prosecution from Mike Freeman’s office.
Statement to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman Following Arrest of Derek Chauvin
The news of the arrest of Derek Chauvin is a positive step for #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd‘s family and our whole community. But to achieve real justice, the remaining three officers who participated in #GeorgeFloyd’s killing must be arrested and charged. We need to fix our criminal justice system and build a state where Black Minnesotans can live free from fear of police brutality.
As a union of over 50,000 Minnesotans, who are united across race and place in our fight for systematic change to address anti-black racism, we renew our demand on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to take immediate action to arrest and appropriately charge the other three officers.
Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.
Our Statement Ahead of MPS Vote to Cut Ties With MPD (That passed unanimously!)
SEIU Local 284, the Union that represents 500 Minneapolis Public School employees who do custodial and food service work, joined the calls supporting the Minneapolis School Board plan to cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department following the killing of George Floyd. The MPD has been contracted by the public schools to provide school resource officers since 1967.
Ahead of the vote, SEIU Local 284 Executive Director Kelly Gibbons released the following statement:
“SEIU members in Minneapolis and across our state believe in making a future where all families – no matter our race, zip code, job or wealth – have public schools where our students feel safe and have the resources they need to thrive. But in Minneapolis it has long been clear that Black families aren’t able to feel safe from the people who are supposed to serve and protect us. The killing of George Floyd last week has made clear for anyone who had any doubts that our system is broken and needs to be changed. A positive first step to enacting change in our public schools would be for the Minneapolis Public Schools to cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department. Not only will this make our schools safer and more welcoming, but imagine what kind of community-driven projects we could fund with this money to actually help and support our students. We are in full support of MPS cutting ties with MPD and believe this can be a first step towards building a better future for all students in the Minneapolis Public Schools.”
The day after Local 284’s announcement, the Board voted unanimously to adopt the plan to sever ties with MPD. In addition, SEIU Local 284 will be joining with students, parents and other school employee union members over the summer to find new ways to provide public safety in their schools.
Our Statement of Support Joining AFL-CIO and Others Calling for MPLS Police Union President Bob Kroll to Resign
SEIU in Minnesota is united with the MN AFL-CIO & our Minnesota labor family in calling for Minneapolis Police Union President Bob Kroll’s immediate resignation.
The State of Minnesota & the Labor Movement have no room for racism!
If you missed it earlier this afternoon, read the AFL’s statement: https://www.mnaflcio.org/…/minnesota-afl-cio-calls-minneapo…
Will we get paid during the closure?
Schools will continue to receive funding throughout the closure, and Gov. Walz has made it clear that all school workers, including hourly employees, should continue to get paid as regularly scheduled.
No school employee should lose pay, benefits, or PTO due to the closure. We hope districts do the right thing, but if not, let your Contract Organizer know right away, and we will work together to address it. Districts will be kept whole and our employees should be kept whole too. Stay tuned for info on legislation that would legally require them to do so.
Who should come in to work?
Watch for communications from your district about who should report to work. Many of us–except employees who are “at risk”–will likely continue to work during this closure. Schools may provide distance learning, nutritional services, care for the children of emergency workers, special ed services, and more. Stewards and Contract Organizers will need to work together to ensure our voices are included in your district’s planning process.
Mary Kay Henry penned an op-ed this morning in USA Today, calling on all presidential candidates to support Unions for All. An excerpt:
“We are looking for more than lip service from political candidates and elected leaders about how much they support the broken laws we already have,” wrote Henry. “Instead, we need big ideas about how to empower more people to join together in unions so everyone, no matter where they live or work, can negotiate for things like better pay, more affordable health care and more family-friendly schedules.”
The New York Times agrees: The fight for better working conditions for all workers should be central in the next Democratic Debate. Read the editorial here. An excerpt:
“Here’s one question that ought to be put to the Democratic candidates at their next debate in September: How would you improve the life of the average home health care worker?”
“One intriguing proposal, backed by the influential Service Employees International Union and embraced by Mr. Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., would rewrite a law that requires workers to bargain solely with their employers. In other developed nations, “sectoral” bargaining lets workers in a given industry negotiate wages and salaries collectively — a potential game-changer in industries with many small workplaces.”
“These ideas work together: higher minimum standards, collective bargaining and a stronger safety net can all help to improve the quality of working-class jobs in the 21st century.”
After failing to qualify for the third debate, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the race.
Senator Bernie Sanders received the endorsement of the United Electrical Workers Union.
I am humbled to receive the endorsement of my union brothers and sisters from @ueunion. Our fight is about the need for an economy that works for all Americans and not just the 1 percent, and we are going to win that fight together. https://t.co/URaWAk8GJ8
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 26, 2019
THIRD DEBATE: HOUSTON, TX
The qualifying period for the third debate has passed and the Houston based event will only be one night, on September 12. SEIU Texas and Fight for $15 and a Union plan to hold actions that week. The event will be similar to previous debates, which will be moderated by ABC News and Univision. Right now, ten candidates have qualified for this third debate. The final list of candidates are:
CANDIDATE INTERACTIONS WITH MEMBERS
Senator Harris met with Fast Food workers in North Carolina after a rally.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg marched with California gig workers outside UBER HQ to fight for better pay, benefits, protections & a path to a union.
Mayor @PeteButtigieg marched with California gig workers outside @Uber HQ to fight for better pay, benefits, protections & a path to a union. Mayor Pete is right “a gig is a job” and workers deserve to be able to work hard and care for their families. #AB5 #UnionsForAll pic.twitter.com/HSgMVMTt6t
— SEIU (@SEIU) August 27, 2019
Today I proudly joined the @GigWorkersRise community in protesting for union rights because a gig is a job and a worker is a worker—and it’s past time to guarantee workplace protections and #UnionsForAll. pic.twitter.com/A5mlVtLVIL
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) August 27, 2019
A large group of RNs and service, tech and professional staff with SEIU Healthcare NW attended a rally with Senator Elizabeth Warren. After the rally, they spoke briefly with the Senator about their upcoming bargaining for a successor contract Swedish Medical Center/Providence St Joseph Health System.
A NY Times Opinion Piece analyzes support among white voters for Donald Trump. It goes further to analyze how union membership has played a role. An exerpt:
“Kitschelt and Rehm separately provided data on the rates of union membership among the various categories of white voters. The data points to the devastating consequences of declining union membership for the Democratic Party. Non-college whites, both low- and high-income, were heavily unionized in the 1950s and 1960s, when both groups cast majorities for Democratic presidential candidates. Over time, each group has experienced a precipitous decline in union membership. Among those with low incomes, the level of unionization fell from 22.7 in 1952 to 13.0 percent in 2016. Among those with high incomes, the rate of unionization dropped from 38.9 to 19.6 percent.”
The Fresno Bee posed the question “will California workers pick the next President?” It dives into how unions nationally will work with the state’s leadership to decide who they ultimately endorse. The article talks about labor’s influence in the election and mentions our Walk A Day in Detroit with Senator Harris.
CANDIDATE POLICY UPDATES
Mayor Pete Buttigieg released a plan on mental health and opioid addiction. The plan references the high overdose rates in communities of color, and sets a goal for 75% of those needing mental health or addiction services to receive treatment. He proposes to improve access to treatment, train more providers, increase availability of overdose treatments, increase drug treatment research, integrate mental health and addiction health care with physical health care systems, and expand take-home naloxone programs to all 50 states by 2024. The plan also calls for establishing a $100 billion community grant program, decriminalizing mental illness and addiction, and instituting additional measures to hold drug companies accountable.
UNIONS & $15 MENTIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY CANDIDATES
I stand with all the @CWAUnion members who are making their voices heard. @ATT must respect workers’ rights to join a union and bargain collectively, and they should come to the negotiating table in good faith. #ATTUnfair
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 26, 2019
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 24, 2019
View this post on Instagram
I’m honored to join the @nv_aflcio for a candidate forum in Las Vegas to discuss my plans to support labor and working families in the years ahead. Together we can raise wages, protect benefits, and ensure workers are supported in organizing for more prosperous future.
Spoke to the @NVAFLCIO for their 63rd Annual Constitutional Convention yesterday. I come from a union family. I know that when unions are strong, America is strong. And unlike this President, I won’t whine or make empty promises, I’ll get things done for working families. pic.twitter.com/bVj0dQcGK3
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) August 29, 2019
So honored to join the @NVAFLCIO today to talk about my vision for strengthening workers’ rights and the organizing power of unions. Quality jobs are about so much more than a paycheck—they’re about dignity and economic justice. pic.twitter.com/eAtQA68Ugp
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 28, 2019
Opportunity doesn’t = outcome nor should it. But we’re fooling ourselves to think the US gives equal opportunity, when millions of kids are hungry, millions get sub par education, millions are saddled with college loans, millions lack healthcare & unions are consistently attacked
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) August 28, 2019
DNC SUMMER MEETING
SEIU staff attended the DNC Summer meeting to hear from candidates address the DNC delegates. This was the last meeting of delegates before the convention next year. During the event, Mayor Buttigieg addressed the crowd in a video where he included clips of our rally in Detroit at the second debate and clips of the Mayor marching with FF15 workers. The DNC also voted down a resolution that would have created a DNC sponsored and focused debate on climate. Sunrise protesters led an action after this.
Unions for All coverage over Labor Day weekend:
On Thursday, in a piece headlined ‘Reviving the American Working Class,’ the New York Times editorial board wondered what presidential candidates will do to improve the life of the average home care worker and others left behind in the changing economy, or — as we know — excluded from the beginning:
More manufacturing would be nice, but it won’t create many jobs. The best way to improve the lives of American workers it is to improve the terms of the jobs that they actually hold: raising the salaries of restaurant workers barely able to feed their families; providing paid leave for child-care providers who cannot care for their own children; securing benefits for warehouse workers who lack insurance because they are employed as contractors.
Democratic candidates are beginning to take notice of this fundamental shift, in part because voters are demanding that the candidates address the realities of their working lives.
One intriguing proposal, backed by the influential Service Employees International Union and embraced by Mr. Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., would rewrite a law that requires workers to bargain solely with their employers. In other developed nations, “sectoral” bargaining lets workers in a given industry negotiate wages and salaries collectively — a potential game-changer in industries with many small workplaces.
On Friday online, and in USA Today‘s Labor Day weekend print edition, an op-ed from Mary Kay Henry continued the call for Unions for All and lifted up a wave of workers’ organizing as the catalyst for change:
We are looking for more than lip service from political candidates and elected leaders about how much they support the broken laws we already have. Instead, we need big ideas about how to empower more people to join together in unions so everyone, no matter where they live or work, can negotiate for things like better pay, more affordable health care and more family-friendly schedules.
Workers across the country are demanding unions and fair contracts in a way I’ve never seen in my 40-year career in the labor movement. They include public school teachers from West Virginia, Oklahoma and Los Angeles. Amazon workers. Stop & Shop workers. Child care workers. Cooks and cashiers at McDonald’s and other companies across the $200 billion fast-food industry.
Today, a lengthy Vox column discusses innovative proposals to reform America’s broken labor laws, with the incredible headline:
“Unions for all”: the new plan to save the American labor movement
Sectoral bargaining is the future of American labor unions
A growing number of labor law experts and even presidential candidates (including Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg) have settled on a new approach to revive the US labor movement. Major labor leaders like SEIU President Mary Kay Henry are embracing this strategy too, and shifting their organizations in turn.
Henry has dubbed this “unions for all” — an entire industry’s workers, that is, not just in one company. This approach involves moving beyond the traditional form of union organizing that you know from movies like Norma Rae, where unions organize workplace-by-workplace and fight tough battles for recognition, to an approach closer to that used in Europe or Australia.
This approach is called “sectoral bargaining,” and it could change the way work is done in the United States.
In The American Prospect, Harold Meyerson highlights the Unions for All demand as a leading framework for winning sectoral bargaining in America:
SEIU—the union behind the Fight for 15 and efforts to unionize workers in the fast-food industry—was involved in another form of sectoral bargaining, when New York state convened a wage board to raise the minimum wage to $15 for the state’s fast-food workers. New York and California are among the handful of states that have created wage boards in several industries, though most of those boards have been dormant for decades.
Last month, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry went one major step further, demanding “industry-wide bargaining tables to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions” as a matter of national policy—and making support for sectoral bargaining a condition for the union’s endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate. Almost simultaneously, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke released their labor policy papers, both of which backed the establishment of sectoral bargaining.
And John Nichols writes in The Nation about the need for bigger plans to empower workers to organize, highlighting Unions for All as a demand that is already driving the debate in the 2020 primary:
This is a point at which Democrats should be talking not just about reversing the anti-labor legislation of recent years but also reversing anti-labor legislation of the past 75 years. To their credit, some Democratic presidential contenders are doing so. Candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke have taken up Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry’s call for reforms that upend so-called “right to work” laws and make it dramatically easier to organize and maintain unions.
In The Sacramento Bee, California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted up misclassification as one of the factors exacerbating the imbalance of power in our economy, highlighting the role states can play in raising standards for workers beyond the limits of outdated, exclusionary federal labor laws:
Our economy has stopped working for working people. While the wealthiest have grown wealthier, the middle class and working people have grown poorer. Corporate profits have gone through the roof while worker pay has remained in the basement.
While this step is important, we must do more to reverse the 40-year trends that have hollowed out our middle class and driven income inequality. We can do this by partnering with labor and supporting their efforts to create ways for workers to join together and speak with one voice. Across the country, unions are paving the path for new ways to organize – whether it’s the fight for a federal $15 minimum wage, organizing freelancers and contractors, or bargaining project labor agreements.
Creating new ways for workers to organize is a key component of tackling the level of inequality that undermines our entire economy and threatens our children’s future. As union membership has fallen, the share of income going to the top ten percent has skyrocketed.
And presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s Labor Day op-ed in the New York Daily News included Fight for $15 and a Union activist Taiwanna Milligan’s story:
As organized labor has been weakened, the economy its workers helped build is no longer working for most Americans. It’s not working for the mother I met in Charleston, S.C., fighting to make more than $7.25 an hour so she could afford her son’s medical treatment. It’s not working for the man in Bettendorf, Iowa — a lifelong Republican — who told us he drives for DoorDash because “everyone needs a side job these days.”
If we’re going to build a fair and prosperous future for us all, we urgently need every worker in America to have the opportunity to get ahead. And that means taking a bold new approach to strengthen unions for the next era
Parents and school bus workers want safe school bus service,
provided by a well-trained, stable workforce, while keeping school dollars in
the community. That’s the conclusion reached by parents and school bus drivers in
“Safe, from Home to School: The need for Student Transportation Reform in Minnesota”. The report
summarizes a survey and research conducted by members SEIU Local 284, Minnesota’s largest
union of school bus workers.
Executive Director of SEIU Local 284, said the report highlights common
concerns. “As we await the release of the Legislative Auditor’s report on student
transportation, this Community Audit suggests that bus drivers and parents have
clear ideas about what’s wrong with student transportation: out of control
costs and increasing safety concerns.”
Over 79 percent of parents surveyed said it is important that
their child have a regular driver who they are familiar with. Unfortunately, 17
percent said their child had already had three or more school bus drivers this
year. One parent from Cambridge,
Minnesota wrote: “I think it’s
important that the kids know their bus driver and know who to trust in an
emergency. I think they build a relationship with the bus driver just like a
teacher or other school professionals. If they have a different driver everyday
they may not feel comfortable going to them with a problem like bullying or [a]
The report also confirms previous studies showing that Minnesota school
districts pay an average 10 percent premium to outsource student
transportation. The annual per-student savings of operating transportation systems
fully in-house was $45 (9.5%) per student for districts with less than 4000
students and $33 (11.22%) per student for districts with more than 4000
students. The report also cites data collected by the Minneapolis Public Schools
that indicates those higher prices come with higher rates of driver turnover, less
experienced drivers, less reliable service and more accidents.
What causes high turnover and an inexperienced workforce? Of
bus drivers surveyed who plan to quit (for reasons other than retirement) within
two years, 89 percent are being driven out by low wages and benefits, including
47 percent because of insufficient hours or the lack of summer work and 26
percent because they lack access to health care. Of those without private
health insurance, 17 percent said they are uninsured and 83 percent receive
health insurance through Minnesota Care or another government program. Parents
and bus workers are concerned: over 97 percent want private companies to report
on the turnover, training, and experience level of their workforce when
applying for public contracts.
Bob Cook, a school bus driver in the Edina public schools, helped plan and conduct
the survey with co-workers and parents. “Drivers were really happy to know that
someone was concerned about what they were concerned about. Parents were really
happy to be asked their opinion. It was very gratifying.”
Click here to read the Student Transportation in Minnesota Report.