NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY


  November 6, 2013

Seattle Suburb Passes Highest Minimum Wage in Country


David Rolf of SEIU helped organize SeaTac's Proposition 1 to provide $15/hour to hotel, restaurant, and airport workers.
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here
   



audio

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



Because news is only as honest as the intentions of those who report it. - Joel L.
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


biography

Known nationally as an innovative labor leader, David Rolf is the President of SEIU Healthcare 775NW, the fastest growing union the Northwest representing 43,000 home care and nursing home workers in Washington state and Montana. He also serves as an International Vice President of the Service Employees International Union, the international organization which represents more than 2.1 million workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. 

Rolf, 43, has led some of the largest organizing efforts since the 1930s. He helped organize 75,000 care givers in Los Angles and started the homecare union in Washington. Rolf also helped to create the SEIU NW Healthcare Training Partnership and Health Benefits Trust.

He helped to spearhead inclusion of the State Balancing Incentive Program (BIPP) into the 2010 Affordable Care Act. BIPP incentivizes states to establish long-term care systems. 

In addition to his responsibilities with SEIU, Rolf also sits on other boards and steering committees for governmental advisory bodies, political action committees and non-profit organizations.

transcript

Seattle Suburb Passes Highest Minimum Wage in CountryJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

On November 5, voters from the Seattle suburb of SeaTac passed Proposition 1, which calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage for airport, hotel, and restaurant workers. That is the highest minimum wage in the US.

Joining us now is David Rolf. David is the SEIU international vice president and organized support for the passage of Proposition 1.

Thanks for joining us, David.

DAVID ROLF, PRESIDENT, SEIU HEALTHCARE 775NW: Thanks for having me.

DESVARIEUX: So, David, can you just give us sort of the back story? How did this come to be? How were you guys able to organize getting such a high minimum wage in SeaTac?

ROLF: Well, let's talk about the SeaTac economy for a second. These airport jobs, like baggage handlers, ramp workers, jet fuelers, concessionaires, these are jobs that paid $16, $18 an hour back in the 1970s and the 1980s. They used to be living-wage jobs. Even our local congressman Adam Smith recalls growing up in the home--his father was a baggage handler and was able to support a family and buy a home on a baggage handler's salary.

That's all changed. The major airlines outsourced those jobs and turned them into minimum-wage jobs, which impoverished a whole community. So SeaTac saw its grocery store become a Goodwill and its video store become a pawnshop because the impoverishment of those jobs hurt the whole community.

So when voters had a chance to qualify a ballot initiative and raise wages back up a little closer to where they were 20 or 30 years ago. Ultimately they said yes, and they gathered enough signatures to qualify Proposition 1 for the ballot. And then in the early returns they seemed to be passing Proposition 1 by about an eight-point margin. It was really their opportunity to say to CEOs and to Congress that they're impatient with waiting for them to do the right thing for American workers and it's time we took matters into our own hands.

DESVARIEUX: Now, let's get a sense of the impact of this vote. How many workers will actually be affected?

ROLF: There are about 6,000 workers, a little more than 6,000 workers who work at the airport and airport-related businesses like rental car companies, parking lots, and at the hospitality zone adjacent to the airport with the major hotels, but about 6,000 who work for about 70 different businesses.

DESVARIEUX: And do you think this vote in SeaTac will sort of increase the momentum elsewhere?

ROLF: Well, for sure it will. Ultimately what votes like this are about is whether the entire economy thrives and prospers or only the richest 1 percent. When you look at what's happened over the last 30 years, CEO pay has gone up 725 percent in this country. Eighty percent of all the economic gains have gone to the top 1 percent of income earners. And the bottom 90 percent has seen wages stagnate and real spending power decline vis-à-vis inflation.

So kind of mass impoverishment of wage work that we've seen all around the country, it I think is going to create many more situations that are ripe for this kind of campaign, where voters are going to lose patience with CEOs, bankers, Wall Street, and politicians and say it's time that we do this ourselves. I would expect that this may have been the first nationally significant campaign like this, but I really doubt it's going to be the last.

DESVARIEUX: Well, David, congratulations on your victory and thank you for joining us.

ROLF: Alright.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.



Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

UK Faces Loss of Labor, Environmental Protections as Brexit Unfolds
At AIPAC Protest, Young American Jews Voice Rejection of Israeli Policies
Trump's Climate Order Protects Fossil Fuel's Bottom Line
Jeff Sessions Targeting of So-Called Sanctuary Cities Likely Unconstitutional, Experts Say
Democrats Must Take on Corporate Power If they Want to Win
Is the US Ready for Universal Health Care? This Physician Says 'Yes'
LGBTQ Activists Call for Accountability Following Murder of Trans Woman of Color in Baltimore
After Trumpcare Fail, Activists See Opportunity for Single-Payer
Growing Discontent with Corruption Brings Thousands of Russians to the Streets
Will Dems Derail Sanders's Push for Public Option?
Arrest of Omar Barghouti Comes Amidst Upsurge in International Support for Boycott of Israel
Baltimore Mayor's Veto of $15/Hr Bill Shows Corporate Wing of Democrats Alive and Well
Military-Industrial Complex Pushes Nuke Modernization, Risking Confrontation with Russia
Empire Files: The Sikh Experience in America
Nebraskan Landowners Resist Keystone XL By Refusing to Sell Their Property to TransCanada
Study Links Extreme Weather Events to Climate Change
Sixth Year of War in Syria Marked by Tremendous Civilian Casualties
The Protest-Resignation of UN Under-Secretary Dr. Rima Khalaf
Climate Catastrophe Is Here: 2016 Hottest Year on Record
Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in D.C. Set for August
"Wealthcare" Defeated: Health Care For All Back on the Agenda
Defending the Climate in the Age of Trump
Baltimore Public School Funding Pales in Comparison to Private Education Spending
Rattling the Bars: Women and Incarceration
Trump-Republican Alliance in Disarray?
Baltimore Mayor's Veto of $15 Wage Protects Policy of Subsidizing Wealthy, Councilperson Says
The Truth Behind the War on Immigrants
Were Haitian Police Behind Assassination Attempt on Aristide?
New Provisions Eliminate Healthcare From GOP 'Wealthcare' Bill
Why Further Revelations on Trump's Russian Connections Might Fail to Bring Him Down

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Managed Wordpress Hosting