-Cleaners visited lawmakers on the opening day of the legislative session demanding betters wages for all workers–
Dover, Del – As Delaware elected leaders returned to session at the State Capitol this afternoon, 32BJ SEIU cleaners were on hand to demand a minimum of $15 an hour for all workers across the First State. Fresh on the heels of winning $15 an hour in their four-year agreement, the cleaners held a press conference and visited lawmakers to push for a $15 an hour minimum wage. They were joined by State Senators David McBride, Elizabeth Lockman, Jack Walsh, Nicole Poore, Representative John Kowalko, and supporters from the business community.
“Workers across this state need a wage increase. It’s 2020 and my vision is very clear. I’m asking our elected leaders to think about their constituents and vote to get us $15 an hour. If we envision Delaware being an inclusive state for all, where everyone can thrive and not only survive, we will pass $15 an hour and we won’t delay,” said Tracey Thuo, a cleaner in Wilmington.
The push for $15 an hour is moving rapidly across the country. Delaware’s current minimum wage is $9.25 an hour. According to MIT, a living wage of $26.99 an hour is needed for one adult supporting one child in New Castle County. So far, neighboring states New Jersey and Maryland have taken steps to raise the wage by 2025 or earlier.
“Raising the minimum wage boosts consumer spending as workers buy goods and services they couldn’t afford before. And with a higher minimum wage, businesses benefit from lower employee turnover and increased productivity. We’ve heard from business owners across Delaware who look forward to a higher minimum wage that will strengthen the economy and help businesses and communities thrive,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, Vice President of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.
The demand for $15 an hour started nearly eight years ago when New York fast food workers walked off the job for family-sustaining wages and a union. Delaware fast food workers were also a part of those demonstrations. 32BJ SEIU cleaners in the First State have been working over the years to improve their lives and work towards a pathway to the middle class. It was nine years ago, they were earning only $7.25 an hour with no meaningful benefits. They organized and joined 32BJ SEIU and have won annual raises, benefits for full-time workers, days off, and a voice on the job. Last week, they negotiated a new four-year agreement with their employers that will see the majority of the workers earning $15 by the end of the contract.
“Our win shows that employees and employers can work together to benefit all. 32BJ SEIU fights for all workers. We won’t stop until ALL workers across Delaware earn $15 an hour,” said Daisy Cruz, 32BJ SEIU Mid-Atlantic District Leader.
“The win of $15 an hour for 32BJ SEIU cleaners is a step forward for workers across the First State. Employers in neighboring states are giving their employees a boost in the minimum wage and Delaware needs to get onboard. When workers earn more, they have more spending power to give back to their communities and local businesses,” said Jim Marvelias, President, AFL/CIO for Delaware.
Following the press conference, members paid visits to several lawmakers encouraging them to support $15 an hour.
With 175,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 22,000 in Pennsylvania and Delaware, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.