by Gabe Morgan
32BJ Vice President and PA/DE State Director
As we begin 2016 and look forward to everything a new year can bring, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on what we, together, have achieved as a union in Pennsylvania and Delaware throughout 2015.
We won strong contracts for commercial office cleaners in Pittsburgh, downtown Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Suburbs and Delaware. In September, thousands of cleaners from up and down the East Coast hit the streets of Philadelphia in a show of strength and unity to launch the Raise America campaign. Together, we stood strong and won fair wage increases and benefits.
In Pittsburgh, we successfully organized more than 1,000 security officers for their first-ever union contract. The deal provides wage increases, healthcare benefits, and helps professionalize the industry. University of Pittsburgh property services workers fought back when they weren’t getting a solid contract. They took to the streets, held forums and leafleted. They stood strong and got a deal that allows them to support their families and communities.
Airport workers in Philadelphia won a raise to $12 an hour and protected workers’ rights when the City signed a lease with American Airlines. Prior to the vote, airport workers held a one-day strike and we took over City Hall with allies and elected officials. Philly airport workers went on strike again in November as part of the first-ever national airport workers strike.
It was another big year in Pennsylvania politics, and 32BJ members made a big impact! We made history by electing a State Supreme Court that will stand with working families; Pittsburgh members and allies fought hard to pass Paid Sick Days legislation for 50,000 Pittsburghers, as well as the Safe and Secure Building Act to provide essential training for security officers. Paid Sick Days legislation also passed in Philadelphia, where members also knocked on thousands of doors to elect Jim Kenney as the new Mayor of Philadelphia. A longtime union member and supporter, Mayor Kenney has stood with commercial cleaners, fired workers at 2116 Chestnut and airport workers.
32BJ members care about social justice in our local communities. That’s why we hosted a jobs and violence forum in Delaware with 150 members and elected officials in attendance. District 1201 members rallied in Philadelphia and Harrisburg in support of a fair budget and helped beat back dangerous state pension changes.
This will be a big year for 32BJ in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Philadelphia security officers and Philadelphia School District workers will be fighting for a new contract, Philadelphia airport workers will continue fighting for justice, and with presidential and congressional elections taking place, you can expect to see 32BJ members pounding the pavement to protect working families.
I wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe new year, and I look forward to working with you to deliver wins for all workers in 2016.