SEIU 105: Union Strong in 2021

Ron Ruggiero, President, SEIU Local 105

There is no doubt, 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging years for working families in our lifetimes. But instead of folding under pressure, members across our union tackled these challenges united, achieving historic victories for janitors, security officers, airport, healthcare, and mental health workers at SEIU Local 105. 

We fought for and often won better personal protective equipment (PPE), and bargained numerous 1-year contract extensions across our union, including winning the best raises for our 2,400 janitors than any Western state! We fought back and stopped many layoffs and hours reductions from happening, including in December restoring hours to 500 janitors whose hours were cut just two weeks prior.

Our over 3,000 Kaiser members ended the year with winning the full PSP bonus payout after waging a “Heroes Bonus” bonus campaign alongside the over 80,000 members strong Coalition of Kaiser Unions.

Proving that elections matter, the Democratic-controlled state legislature had its most pro-worker session in decades by enacting: paid sick leave for all Coloradans, collective bargaining rights for over 28,000 state employees, eliminated corporate tax giveaways, whistleblower protection for raising health & safety issues for all workers, expanded unemployment insurance protections and police accountability legislation. Denver continued raising the minimum wage to $14.77 an hour on January 1st which improved the lives of over 100,000 workers.

Our members showed up strong in the November 3rd election with historic volunteer engagement and voter turnout! We helped elect Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice-President in a history-making election. We helped defeat Senator Cory Gardner by electing John Hickenlooper as our next US Senator from Colorado, passed Paid Family Leave on the ballot, and expanded the Democratic majority in our state legislature.

Looking Forward to 2021

This year will be an epic one for bargaining as we negotiate our contracts covering over 60% of our members in 2021 at the airport, our security officers, Master Contract janitors, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and Mental Health Center of Denver. We will do what we always do in bargaining by engaging our members to run strong contract campaigns and support each other in solidarity. We will continue to show bosses across Colorado that You Don’t Mess with 105!

We will continue to stand up at our worksites and at local, state, and the federal government for Covid-19 protections and for unemployment & economic support until the vaccine helps us get this terrible pandemic under control.

But, we will not “return to normal”. Normal wasn’t working for most of us. We will hold  political leaders, regardless of their party accountable to a simple set of demands: Respect Us. Protect Us. Pay Us. We must demand & win bold, transformative change to achieve economic & racial justice for every single one of us.  This agenda is how we can win an economy and society that allows all of us to thrive:

  • Win Unions for All that allows all workers to join a union & collectively bargain, no matter where they work.
  • Changing the policies and systems that can make it harder for people of color and working families to thrive.
  • Providing frontline workers with protective gear, hazard pay, and paid sick leave.
  • Raising the national minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • Tackling the COVID-19 crisis in a clear, science-based way.
  • Achieving a true multi-racial democracy where voting rights are protected for everyone.

We know this in our union: when working people come together, no matter the color of our skin, where we come from, or what zip code we live in, our solidarity is strong. When we fight together, we win. We will carry this forward in 2021 and beyond. Billionaires took over $1 trillion more from us just since the pandemic began, so we know we can afford a society and economy where all working people can thrive. We won’t allow them to distract and divide us as they take more and more from us. Just like in the past when we have come together across our differences, We Will Make the Way to a better future.

But, it will take all of us. I urge every member to get involved in our union at work, help organize new people into our union, and in electing and holding politicians accountable to serve us…all of us.  This is our path to unity, strength, and winning a future where we, and our children, can thrive.

Ron Ruggiero

President, SEIU Local 105