English / Español
By any measure, the last two years have been some of the most difficult we have faced. With the pandemic, the racial tensions plaguing our country, and the loss of income and life many have faced, we have been pushed to the edge. We mourn the many friends and USWW union members that we lost, and we pray for their families. Despite the many obstacles we have faced as a union, we have managed to survive through the pandemic, fight for our members, and thrive by winning some of the best contracts we have ever won with our heads held high. As we close this year, I want to highlight the victories won by our members and look ahead to what is in store for 2023.
The Security Division at USWW represents about 15,000 officers throughout California. This year our officers, for the first time ever, negotiated the collective bargaining agreements in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Silicon Valley together. Our member bargaining team spent months negotiating with their employers, spending many long days at the bargaining table and refusing to accept offers that didn’t raise standards enough. In the end, they reached the best contract we have ever won in the security division and the best security contract of any SEIU Local in the country. Officers received substantial pay increases, won increased safety measures and protections for officers when they face client removal. The contract was ratified by a huge majority of officers. The first raise from the contract will come on January 1st.
In the coming year, the security division will continue to develop new leaders as we fight for contracts at Kaiser locations across the state and in Sacramento. In addition, our union will continue to grow and build power as we work to bring in new members in San Diego and L.A. County.
After winning a historic contract in 2021, the Janitorial Division spent 2022 fighting to enforce our contracts in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Sacramento, and preparing for our next contract fight in 2024 by developing new leaders. Earlier this year at Union Station in Los Angeles, violence escalated to the point where USWW members were forced to take action for their safety and the protection of passengers. Violent crime at Union Station shot up by 94% during the pandemic, and the USWW members who work there – who were often victims of this violence – demanded change. The janitors took action. They worked with union organizers to hold large public actions, they worked with the union political team to reach out to local elected officials and they began speaking to the press. In the end, they won significant changes. There is now increased private security and four dedicated LAPD officers at Union Station. When janitors clean bathrooms or are asked to clean in isolated areas, they are accompanied by security. There is still work to be done, but the members feel significantly safer at work because they bravely spoke out, organized and successfully fought for meaningful change.
USWW members in Silicon Valley fought to protect janitors at Meta (Facebook). As the tech industry faced a downturn and Silicon Valley went through a cycle of mass layoffs, janitors at Meta were told that over 200 members were facing layoffs. The union took immediate action. The remaining members immediately walked off the job and began a strike that lasted several days. In the end, we negotiated with Meta and the employer, SBM, to reduce the number of layoffs, fought so that members who were laid off received severance pay and kept their health care, and made sure that members who lost their jobs were reassigned to other union positions.
This year our Allied Division took a big step toward coordinating our eight professional sports venues across the state by coming together to form the Stadiums and Arenas Council. It was great to get everyone together so we could discuss ways to coordinate and build our strength so that members in different areas are active simultaneously, as well as looking at organizing opportunities. We also talked about the need to build new leaders in the division. USWW racetrack workers statewide won a new contract with much-needed pay increases and improved access to health benefits for members who don’t work regular schedules. The Allied Division also continued to win new contracts improving standards for our members at golf courses, food service sites, and residential sites.
The coming year will be spent developing new leaders and shop stewards to prepare for our next contract campaigns. USWW Members at Disneyland will be negotiating their new contract in 2024, and we want to make sure that we enter that campaign as strong as we have ever been. Our strength comes from member involvement. Members have to fight to win what they deserve and be active during contract campaigns. Spending the next year identifying and training leaders to enforce our contract is the best way to make sure that we enter 2024 ready to fight.
Our Airports Division continues to fight for new contracts for passenger services at LAX and SFO and for Covenant security screeners at SFO. Our leaders continue to move new members into action and identify new leaders. Actions continue to grow, and our presence continues to build. On December 8th, we took part in nationwide actions at the airports that brought out thousands of workers at 15 airports across the county and hundreds of members at LAX and SFO.
In the coming year, one of our main priorities is to make sure that these contracts negotiations reach a successful conclusion that provides for airport workers. In Los Ageles, an important part of that fight will be raising the City’s Living Wage Ordinance. At LAX, member salaries are largely determined by a City law that sets minimum standards for airport workers. We have been working with the L.A. City Council to make sure that a change to the ordinance is introduced in this legislative session and we will fight to make sure that it passes.
As we come to the end of the year, it is important that we reflect on our victories and acknowledge the efforts of the many people that fought for them. I want to thank all of our Executive Board, Shop Stewards, union leaders and union staff. This is a collective effort and we are stronger together. Please take some time to enjoy your family and get some rest over the holidays. There is a lot of work to do in 2023. When We Fight, We Win!