Hartford, CT – A coalition of low-wage workers, elected officials and community leaders marched yesterday in Hartford in support of a ‘National Day of Action’ which mobilized hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the country calling for fair wages and an increase in the federal minimum wage.
In Hartford, security officer who protect State buildings along with janitors and supporters of all backgrounds were uniting to hold irresponsible corporations and employers accountable and to win decent wages and a voice at the workplace.
“My job is to protect others,” said Wilfredo Rodriguez, who has been working as a security officer at a state building in Hartford, but has to rely on a publicly funded program for healthcare for his 13-year-old daughter. “I make sure that folks feel safe when they get to work. I take my job seriously. But sometimes I wonder: “I’ve got all these people’s back, but who’s got mine?”
The contracted security officers, who protect sites such as the State of Connecticut Capitol Avenue Complex, earn as little as $9.56 an hour, which forces many to rely on taxpayer-funded healthcare and other public assistance. While a State audit has found that contractor SOS Inc., breached its contract with the state by underpaying the workers many workers have yet to see their money back.
“With glaring income inequality keeping our economy depressed, wage standards are indispensable,” said Kurt Westby, 32BJ SEIU Connecticut Director. “If we are serious about revitalizing our economy and helping working families, we must continue the fight to ensure that all workers are paid a fair wage and decent benefits.”
The National Day of Action is part of a larger campaign to unite low-wage workers with community organizations and average workers in the fight for a fair economy.
“Bigger paychecks for workers means more sales at small businesses and more prosperity for neighborhoods that need a boost,” said Hartford City Councilman Luis Cotto (WF). “If we want to improve Hartford’s economy, we need to do a lot more for regular people and maybe a little less for the 1%,” said Cotto.
With more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, D.C., including 4,500 in Connecticut, 32BJ SEIU is the largest union of property service workers in the country.