SEIU wins victory for janitorial workers at Express Scripts

Service Employees International Union workers celebrated at Express Scripts on May 10 when the company agreed to jettison a custodial services contractor that offered low wages and overly expensive health insurance, according to the workers.

A major workers’ union on Thursday endorsed St. Louis mayoral candidate Tishuara Jones while pressing the need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

The Service Employees International Union Missouri State Council represents 14,000 home care and health care providers, higher education faculty, janitors, as well as patient care professionals, first responders and social service workers. This includes 4,000 employees in the city of St. Louis. 

Several members of the union spoke during the announcement, which was held over Zoom on Thursday morning.

Eugene Hubbard is an SEIU Local 1 executive board member and CleanTech janitor for COCA. 

“One year ago, Treasurer Tishuara Jones marched in the streets with us as we fought for a strong new contract,” Hubbard said. “Working families know that she is a leader and someone we can trust. 

Alice Allen, a home care worker with SEIU Healthcare, also spoke about Jones’ support of the fight for a $15 wage and noted the treasurer was the first elected official to raise minimum wages in her department to $15 an hour.  

“As an essential worker, it’s hard for me to get by on a wage less than $11 an hour — and that’s without benefits,” Allen said. “My low wage forces me to make difficult choices to buy food for my family or medication that I need. Tishuara Jones will be a force for me and low wage essential workers.” 

Allied said she lives in the Walnut Park Neighborhood and believes Jones will also work to clean up vacant lots, board up vacant buildings and make the community safer.

The third union member to speak, Lavetta Richardson, is a CMT and CNA at Mary, Queen and Mother Center in St. Louis.

“For nearly a year, home health care workers have been under attack from a deadly disease at companies who would rather pay their pockets than protect their employees,” she said. “I have watched my coworkers get infected with COVID and have seen many union brothers and sisters die after getting COVID while providing quality care to St. Louis’ most vulnerable residents.”

Richardson said frontline workers’ hazardous pay and protective gear were turned into political issues last year during the pandemic — at the cost of the employees themselves.

“Frontline workers in St. Louis need a change and the change is Tishaura Jones,” Richardson said.

Jones was on the Zoom call and addressed the members as the last speaker.

“I am so proud and honored to have the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, it means the world to me,” she said. 

Jones said she is a proud single mother and comes from a family of union members, having been one herself.

“SEIU has stood with me for years and I’m proud to continue to stand with them in the fight for $15 minimum wage, for safer working conditions and for protections of working families,” she said. 

SEIU Local 1 represents 50,000 employees in six midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Jones is running for mayor against Alerdamnic President Lewis Reed, Alderwoman Cara Spencer and business executive Andrew Jones Jr. 

The primary election will be held March 2 and the general election will follow a month later on April 6.

Because of Prop D, voters should expect primary ballots to be nonpartisan. They will be asked to choose as many candidates as they approve of in each race, regardless of party affiliation. The two candidates with the most votes will then face off in the general election, also regardless of party affiliation.

 

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