On 11 March 2013, SLAM and 70 percent of the approximately 112 nonmanagerial workers at the DoubleTree (housekeepers, banquet servers, front desk agents, van drivers, and Scullers Jazz Club employees) filed a petition stating their desire to be able to decide without the influence of hotel management whether or not to join Unite Here, which already represented Harvard’s dining hall employees.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is best known for the unique fashion blouse they produced and the horrific fire that killed 146 workers, women who might have lived if the owners had been forced to ensure safety standards in the factory. Historically, the 1911 tragedy defined the Triangle workers as the victims of disaster.
On 16 May 1996, Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania signed Senate Bill 1441 into law. This bill contained a series of welfare reforms, including cuts to medical assistance, a requirement that childless people between ages 21 and 58 work 100 hours a month to receive medical assistance benefits, and a condition that anyone making more than $5100 a year did not qualify for medical assistance. When implemented this legislation would cut 250,000 people off of medical assistance.
In the early twentieth century, Kansas was the third largest coal producing state in the United States, with more than 8,000 unionized miners concentrated in the two southwestern counties of Crawford and Cherokee. In January 1920, the Kansas legislature had established a board of compulsory arbitration, known as the Kansas Industrial Court, which banned strikes against unfair labor practices and working conditions.
In 1934 it had been a successful year for strikes in Milwaukee, which emboldened retail clerks at Sears, Roebuck and Company, and the Boston Store to demand higher wages. At the time most clerks earned below $14 a week, which they called “starvation wages.”
When the San Francisco Bay based Lucky Sewing Co. filed for bankruptcy in May of 1992, they laid off twelve Chinese immigrant women whom they owed $15,000 in back wages. The company’s attorney claimed that they had few assets and there was no money to pay the seamstresses. Lucky Sewing Co. and other garment contractors imposed terrible conditions on workers who were often paid less than the $4.25 minimum wage.
In Houston, the largest cleaning companies paid their janitors an average of $5.25 per hour and did not provide health benefits. Meanwhile, in other cities the average salary for a janitor position was between $10-20 an hour and family health benefits were provided. The Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU), under the leadership of its president, Stephen Lerner, utilized the Justice for Janitors Campaign, which involved over 200,000 janitors in more than 28 cities across the United States, to fight to improve the working conditions and benefits for these workers.
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
- James Oppenheim (Used as the rallying cry for the movement)
Pilson, Chicago is home to a large community of Mexican immigrants, and is one of many low-income neighborhoods in Chicago with underfunded schools. In 2011, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) faced a deficit of around $712 million in funding for education, creating what seemed like a void in the resources available for many public schools. At the beginning of the new millennium, Whittier Elementary School was one of more than 150 public schools that lacked basic resources such as an adequate cafeteria, safe and maintained buildings, and a proper library.