When workers speak with one voice, they can make change happen as this example from Torrance, Calif., illustrates.
An estimated 150 public service workers for the City of Torrance showed up in force at the city council on Feb. 5 to make their voices heard. Their demands were simple – the city should honor and respect the contributions of its public service workers and come back to the table to reach a fair employment agreement.
Dozens of tree trimmers, bus drivers, crossing guards, librarians and many other workers who united through AFSCME Local 1117 (Council 36) – and who have been working without a contract for over a year – packed city council wearing green shirts and carrying signs urging workers to stand in solidarity as Local 1117 President David Inez addressed the mayor and other elected officials.
“The city is proposing a 1 percent wage increase for a two-year period – which does not come close to even covering the roughly 3 percent annual cost of living increase,” said Inez. “Moreover, the city's workforce is being expected to pay an average of $600 per month out of pocket for family health care plans – which is much more than their counterparts in comparable cities pay. For workers, that is an enormous financial burden for them to carry.”
Following this action, City of Torrance contacted Local 1117 leadership to arrange an immediate meeting to discuss the issues and come up with a resolution. The workers made that happen, with their show of solidarity and their willingness to engage in collective action to benefit all workers.