• Unprecedented Victory for Low Wage Workers



    We had the good fortune of working with CTUL over the last year. Today they have announced a major victory. Maricela Flores explains in her own words.

    If you see me crying, it is out of happiness. Too often, workers are afraid to stand up for even the most basic of rights. After four years of fighting I am proud to say that we, sub-contracted janitors who clean Target and other stores in the Twin Cities, have taken a strong step towards gaining justice at our jobs. I hope that other workers will be inspired by my struggle to stand up and ensure that we all have a place in deciding how the economy works.

    My name is Maricela Flores. I am a member of the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a low-wage worker-led organization based in the Twin Cities. I work for Carlson Building Maintenance cleaning a Target store. I am one of the workers who make sure the aisles are sparkling, eating areas are neat, and bathrooms clean. I am an overnight cleaner, working a four to 10am shift for Carlson Building Maintenance, who is the sub contractor hired to clean Shakopee’s Target store. I am a single mother taking care of four children while sharing a Shakopee trailer with another family, trying to stretch my $8 an hour salary to the max. It’s not nearly enough to keep up with basic needs.

    Our working conditions are terrible. Many workers complain about a lack of training regarding the work that we do or how to safely handle the dangerous industrial cleaning chemicals we use. I am expected to work seven days a week. There are no days off; they tell us that we have to work 7 days and we can’t take days consecutively because we are needed to clean the store. We are not even allowed to have days off when we get sick or our children get sick. Our pay is too low for how much we put into this job working overnight. You have to have two jobs in order to make ends meet, for the rent and food for our children. The eight dollars an hour I make is the same pay that I was making two years ago when I started. They always say that that’s the way its going stay. I have 4 children, the oldest is 18 and helps take care of the kids. What I make isn’t enough to give them a good life. On top of that, many workers have had their wages stolen, with employers paying less than minimum wage or not paying overtime.

    Last year I participated in three strikes with my co-workers, calling for fair wages and the right to organize without fear of retaliation. In our strikes we stood side by side with low-wage workers around the country who are demanding change. The second time I went on strike was very moving. I knew that I was not only going on strike, I was finally going with other workers to meet with Target representatives in Denver before their shareholder meeting! I was nervous before the meeting because I was afraid they would talk to us like our supervisors talk to us – mean and dismissive. When we got there, I actually got a chance to talk about all the problems my coworkers and I face cleaning their stores. It felt really good to be able to say these things out loud to people who I know can make a difference. They weren’t mean to us. They listened to us.

    After these conversations, Target is adopting new language in a Responsible Contractor Policy that will be implemented with new cleaning contractors, ensuring that workers are not forced to work seven days per week, and that workers have a stronger voice in the workplace. We look forward to the opportunity to finally meet with our employers to negotiate fair wages and working conditions.

    This victory means so much. When we started this so many of us were afraid. I was afraid. This victory will give strength to everyone who has lived with this fear. I cry because I am happy that I can help people move away from fear and suspicion, to being organized and working towards victories collectively. We are a human beings – when we get attacked we rise together for good things. We have to do it, for ourselves and for the future of our children. That’s what I carry with me from these last years of struggle, and as we take on new struggles for justice in our workplaces and in our communities.

    Read More at ctul.net

  • Comments on this post (2 comments)

    • Portgas says…

      More evidence that Labour fails to unteasdrnd what minimum wage really means – it guarantees that if one’s labour is worth under a particular value (the ‘minimum wage’) one is effectively not worth employing.Have a read of if you’re interested in learning more. Particularly relevant is:If the minimum wage is, in short, raised from $3.35 to $4.55 an hour, the consequence is to disemploy, permanently, those who would have been hired at rates in between these two rates. Since the demand curve for any sort of labor (as for any factor of production) is set by the perceived marginal productivity of that labor, this means that the people who will be disemployed and devastated by this prohibition will be precisely the “marginal” (lowest wage) workers, e.g. blacks and teenagers, the very workers whom the advocates of the minimum wage are claiming to foster and protect.Social Darwinists could have no better allies than the Labour party of NZ.

      on April 01, 2015

    • Galip says…

      Tussock,Hurt some so that others may befenit? Even if you’re right about the befenit (and I assert that you are wrong), your position is scarcely moral.You’re still ignoring the fact that (especially in the highly competitive low-margin areas like, say The Warehouse and such), if someone is worth $5 / hour, and the Government makes you pay them $6 / hour, you either have to put prices up (hurting the minimum-wage earners the most, as they’re the ones who buy from such places), or not hire the person. You can’t have your cake, and eat it too.BTW, with respect to ‘perfect competition’ – have a read of , again from the :The “pure and perfect competition” doctrine seeks to replace the competition among producers in the creation of wealth, with a competition among consumers in the form of a mad scramble for a fixed stock of existing wealth. It seeks a state of affairs in which no additional buyer can obtain a product without depriving some other buyer of the goods he wants for that is what competition at full capacity would mean. It seeks to make men competitors in consumption rather than in production. It seeks to transform the competition of human beings into a competition of animals fighting over a static quantity of prey. In other words, when it denounces capitalism, it is denouncing the fact that capitalism is not ruled by the law of the jungle.

      on March 26, 2015

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