On Thursday, as part of We’re All in This Together, SEIU Texas members, city workers and their neighbors, kicked off this year’s campaign to make sure San Antonio is a great place to live and work at the “Budget 101” community workshop. Participants learned how their voices can shape the San Antonio budget to reflect the priorities of working families and expand quality services for our most overlooked communities.
This year, community members voted to mobilize for the following budget priorities:
“The city budget should reflect the needs of people who are often ignored,” said Alma Arevalos, an SEIU Texas member. “When we speak up and take action, city leaders have to take us seriously. Our efforts make it possible for ordinary folks to have an extraordinary impact in our city budget.”
Throughout the Summer, We’re All In This Together members and community partners will put the lessons from “Budget 101” into practice by speaking out at City Council meetings and budget community input sessions throughout the city.
“Everyday, I work to provide the city services we all rely on. I’ve gotten to know our neighborhoods very well and there is some great need out there,” said Alfonso Avilez Jr, Equipment operator, transportation and capital improvements (TCI) with the city and SEIU Texas member. “We can make some smart decisions in our budget to ensure those neighborhood needs are met.”
This community approach to budget planning has already proven successful. In their second year mobilizing for a fair budget, campaign partners worked together to win $1 million for residential streetlights on the west side, $33 million for sidewalk maintenance and repairs and reached a minimum living wage of $13 an hour for city employees who provide essential services.
Follow SEIU Texas members and their campaign to make San Antonio work for everyone by searching #SATXTogether on Twitter and Facebook.
Twenty-five religious leaders have signed and delivered the following letter in support of living wages for Houston janitors:
As faith leaders in the City of Houston, we support the janitors’ struggle to achieve a “living wage”. This struggle is about what kind of a city we want to be – one where you can work with dignity and build a better life for your family, or one where stagnation and poverty grow as only a small percentage of Houstonians have access to the common good needed for a decent human life that is intended for all.
Despite recent slowdowns, Houston remains one of the strongest real estate markets in the country. However, janitors in Houston are paid significantly less than commercial office janitors in most major metropolitan areas. Most Houston janitors are paid an average of $12,155 per year for part-time work. We call on the business leaders of Houston to do their part to keep Houston families out of poverty.
We are standing up for fair pay and benefits for ALL working people. We’re calling on business leaders to do their part by creating good jobs, raising wages and providing affordable health care to their employees. Together we can restore balance to our economy and create opportunity for future generations.
Our airports have become cities of secret poverty, where travelers never know the poverty work that helps get them to their destination.
Today, the UC Berkeley Labor Center released a report entitled Course Correction: Reversing Wage Erosion to Restore Good Jobs at American Airports, which shines a light on that hidden poverty.
The report paints an alarming picture – pay for airport workers has plummeted as airlines and airports have increasingly outsourced their operations. Average salaries for low-wage workers at our airports have fallen by 15% in the last ten years.
In just ten years, the average baggage handler has seen a 45% real terms pay cut as jobs have been outsourced.
The industry should raise up the hard work those workers do, not push them further and further into poverty. The poverty they face is bad for the workers, bad for local economies and the constant staff turnover it creates is bad for safety at our airports.
But right now, airport workers across the country are standing up. People like Carlos Calderon, a wheelchair attendant at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport who struggles to provide for his family on just $220 a week. Carlos is just one of thousands working an outsourced poverty job at Houston’s airports.
Carlos and his co-workers are taking action to raise wage and safety standards by forming a union for contracted employees at Bush Airport. They join airport communities across the country working to bring back good jobs to our airports.
Voters in the airport community of SeaTac, Washington, will soon decide whether to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are taking part in the Yes! for SeaTac campaign in favor of Proposition 1 for good jobs.
Voting finishes tomorrow on Prop. 1. I am hoping for a victory, but win or lose, this epidemic of airport poverty is a problem that needs a solution.
As airport workers across the nation come together, we are building that solution.
The San Antonio City Council proposed a number of budget cuts to vital public and community services in the last few weeks including cutting the staff of Crisis Response Teams (CRTs) that assist domestic violence victims and cutting back on hours and services at libraries, recreation centers, and pools.
SEIU members took these cuts as a call to action and joined neighborhood activist, community members, and co-workers to stand up against domestic violence and other cuts to community services – and they won.
The City Council received the message loud and clear, restoring cuts to CRT teams to continue providing services to domestic violence victims, parks, libraries and programs for children and seniors.
Live in San Antonio and want to help make it better for all of us? Sign up here!
Early this month, SEIU Texas members continued in their fight for commonsense immigration reform – this time by showing broad political support in Texas. SEIU members joined other mothers, fathers, students, and teachers from both sides of the aisle to give the GOP one, unified message: it’s time for commonsense immigration reform.
“There are various Republicans that we know are kind of on the fence and this is … to get their attention to show there are people in this area support reform,” said Jose Diaz, a Republican from Houston. The delegation called on Republican lawmakers at the Harris County Republican Party headquarters to follow the Senate’s lead and give the people of Texas a vote and debate on immigration reform in the House.
The message delivered by the delegation – both at a march and in a formal letter was clear: when 67% of Texans support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, it is time for Republicans to act in the best interest of our families, communities, and our economy and give us a vote on immigration reform in the House.
Johnathan Gwyn, another Republican at the protest said, “It’s important to pass the reform now because it’s good for the economy, it’s good for the community, it’s good for the countries, it’s good for the borders.”
The immigration reform bill is now in the House after having cleared the Senate with a bipartisan majority of 68-32. Although 14 Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of the bill, Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn voted against it.
SEIU Texas members will continue to press their representatives in Washington, and your voice is needed to ensure that 2 million Texans gain a pathway out of the shadows. TAKE ACTION for commonsense immigration reform!
Cross-Posted from Airport Workers United.
On the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the minimum wage, 20 minimum wage or tipped workers were invited to the White House, including Anishia Anderson of Houston, Texas.
Anishia works as a wheelchair assistant at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas. Anishia has escorted elderly or disabled passengers to their flights and around the airport for the past five years. For her service, she is paid $7.25 an hour, the federally mandated minimum wage.
Despite working full time, Anishia earns about $900 a month, an amount too small to make ends meet and she finds herself facing a growing mountain of debt. Recently, Anishia had no other choice but to put a $3,000 dental bill on the credit card—a bill she does not think she will ever be able to pay off at her current wage.
Anishia’s health has declined and she has been diagnosed with a thyroid condition. Without access to employer-provided health insurance, Anishia has been unable to receive treatment for the thyroid condition because even the doctor’s visits alone are too expensive. She also receives no sick days—meaning that if she does not go to work when she is sick; she loses a day’s pay – a difficult choice when every penny is budgeted.
Anishia’s story is just one of the 452,000 Texans who work for minimum wage. According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May, Texas has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the US.
Anishia’s story also highlights the problem of poverty jobs at our airports, where passenger service workers are paid as little as $12,500 a year. This is in stark contrast to the massive wealth Houston’s airports claim to generate for our region, ringing in at $27.5 billion annually. Workers like Anishia worry that without training and the proper equipment needed to do their jobs they are not serving passengers well. With this in mind, Anishia has begun to form a union with her co-workers to ensure airport employees receive proper training on emergency preparedness and safety.
When the owners of high end office buildings fail to pay their fair share in property taxes, we all feel it. On May 14, over a hundred people stood together and asked the city to fight for the future Houston. Congratulations to our sisters and brothers in HOPE and other organizations that are standing up for tax fairness in our city. Read more about their victory here.
Cross-posted from Houstonisotbroke.org
Houstonians are paying their property taxes right now — so are huge companies that own the biggest office buildings in town. But that’s where the similarities end.
On Wednesday, in the shadows of Houston’s biggest office towers, parents, homeowners, teachers and city employees highlighted the issue by playing, “The Price is Wrong,” a parody of the popular daytime game show. Check out the scenes below.
During the noon time event, contestants guessed how big a discount building owners ended up with after manipulating the system — 30%?, 50%, 60%?
How much would you pick?
The answer? Three of Houston’s signature skyscrapers- Williams Tower, Wells Fargo Plaza, Bank of America Building – paid a little more than half of the tax they should have, based on the market value of the buildings based on recent property sales figures.