Baltimore, MD –Essential workers with 32BJ SEIU, SEIU Local 500 and 1199SEIU today announced their endorsement of Senator Chris Van Hollen’s reelection campaign. The unions collectively represent over 30,000 education support personnel, property services workers and health care workers in Maryland.
“During his more than 20 years in public office, Chris Van Hollen has fought relentlessly to improve life for low-wage essential workers and immigrants,” said 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President Jaime Contreras. “No matter how contentious or how many obstacles, Van Hollen does everything in is power to protect hard-working immigrants and essential government contracted workers impacted by the shutdown.”
“Senator Van Hollen has always been a strong champion for working people and educators who are too often left behind,” said Pia Morrison, President of SEIU Local 500. “His support for the Community College Collective Bargaining Bill, which is now law enables community college faculty and staff to finally have a voice at work and ability to improve their jobs.”
“Senator Chris Van Hollen has fought to provide eligible but uninsured families the healthcare they need,” said Lisa Brown, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. “We are proud to endorse a Senator who will fight for the health of all of Maryland’s families – Black, brown, and white.”
For the 2019 State of the Union, Van Hollen took as his guest, a 32BJ member who worked as a contracted U.S. Department of Agriculture custodian for over 20 years and would’ve benefited from legislation Van Hollen introduced to provide back pay for low- to mid-wage federal contract employees who were unemployed during the shutdown. 32BJ members, who are overwhelmingly immigrants and men and women of color locked out of their jobs during the shutdown were stuck with mounting bills and no back pay.
Senator Van Hollen also led a letter with 33 Democratic Senators to the OMB to urge them to direct federal agencies to work with contractors to provide back pay to compensate low- and middle-income contractor employees for the wages they lost during the shutdown.
Over the years, Van Hollen has helped federally contracted janitors win lost wages owed by their employer. In addition to pushing numerous bills and speaking at several marches to protect immigrant rights, he supported efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and ensure all workers have access to paid sick leave in Maryland.
With more than 175,000 members in 11 states, including over 10,000 in Maryland among the 20,000 in the D.C. Area and Baltimore, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.
As the fastest growing education union in the region, SEIU Local 500 represents over 20,000 members who work at colleges, universities, public schools, and nonprofits across Maryland and Washington, D.C.
With over 450,000 caregivers, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in the nation. The 1199SEIU Maryland/DC Division represents over 10,000 members who work in major academic medical centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community-based organizations in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and throughout Maryland.