August 21, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Richmond, VA – As the Service Employees International Union’s “Fight for $15” convention here began Aug. 12, organizers in the campaign demanded the right to form their own union.
Before President Mary Kay Henry’s keynote speech, Jodi Lynn Fennell, a child-care-worker organizer from Las Vegas, tried to bring her a letter asking the union to give them the right to organize. Security guards kept Fennell and several supporters away from the stage, and, the Union of Union Representatives told In These Times, a supervisor told her and four other organizers that they had to leave the convention and pay for their own plane tickets back to Las Vegas. About 75 SEIU organizers and field staff are UUR members, said UUR Vice President Nicholas Calderon, but the union has claimed that it’s not the actual employer of the about 100 other Fight for $15 field organizers. Campaign organizers complain that their wages often come out to less than $15. “We don’t have the right to join a union that we’re fighting for other workers to have,” Fennell said. “When we’re fighting for everyone to have $15 an hour, we should have it ourselves.” SEIU did not respond by deadline to In These Times’ request for comment. Read more