Joining by Industry Strengthens Our Bargaining
Client: SEIU Local 73
Format: President’s Report
Working with SEIU’s President Andy Stern, the president of Local 73 was about to embark on a politically risky but crucial effort to realign the union membership of multiple amalgamated locals into industry-specific locals. All public sector members would end up in one local, all industrial in another and so on. More than half of Local 73′s members would be moved to other locals. This editorial in the union’s quarterly newspaper planted the seeds of this move months before it came before the membership.
Sample: Joining by Industry Strengthens Our Bargaining
The union movement is going through the biggest transformation since the 1930′s. Millions of dollars are being directed toward organizing working women and men who are suffering under bad wages and bad working conditions.
And we’re learning lessons from big business. Corporations join forces within their industries to become power houses – like the merger with Ameritech and SBC. We must look at our union and do the same. We must let go of nostalgia when it holds us back, divides us and makes us weak.
In the Chicago area we look at SEIU as one big union of almost 100,000 workers. The leaders of this union must examine how we can all become stronger voices at the bargaining table and in the legislature. This is our responsibility to the members we serve.
Local 73 has begun to do that with our historic merger with Local 119 in Champaign/Urbana. Bringing almost 1,000 more University of Illinois workers into one of our largest public sector units is going to boost our bargaining power when we face U. of I. officials as well as when we face state legislators.
Another example is the new industry strength we are enjoying in the Security Division. With the addition of more than 1,000 security officers from the former Local 25, our union has gained unprecedented power to negotiate better contracts for our security members.
We need to look now at our industrial and allied bargaining units, and work with other SEIU locals with larger industrial bases to continue to maximize the strength of all of our members in whatever sector they work.
The leaders of the Service Employees International Union must strengthen our position at the bargaining table. We are a union, after all. We come together, work together, struggle together, to demand more from our employers: more in wages, more fairness, more security, more justice. We must take a new approach to organizing ourselves, so that when we demand more, we get it.