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RSD Aramark Workers Win Unpaid Wages from Hurricane Isaac

A group of nearly 60 Recovery School District (RSD) school custodians won a total of nearly $19,000 in back pay owed to them by their employer, Aramark.

Aramark is contracted by the RSD to clean its schools. During the week of August 28, Hurricane Isaac swept through New Orleans and surrounding areas. Schools and many businesses were closed as a result. Even though classes were canceled, Aramark, a Fortune 500 company, was paid.

Instead of paying workers for their scheduled shifts that were canceled due to forces beyond their control, the Pennsylvania-based company and its Wall Street owners stiffed New Orleans workers out of thousands of dollars of pay. The loss of income put many workers into precarious situations.

“Not being paid for one day let alone a week is a hardship for me. I had to borrow money just to make ends meet,” said Rosalyn Markum, custodian at Benjamin Banneker School and New Orleans native. “I’m not a Fortune 500 company. I don’t have the luxury of being backed by Wall Street. I’m a single woman and I work hard for every cent I get.”

With the help of her union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 21 LA, Markum and her coworkers called out Aramark about making a week’s work of profits off of the suffering of New Orleans and the New Orleans people. After six months of talks, the Aramark workers finally received four days of pay.

“Me and my coworkers didn’t take Aramark’s no for an answer. We knew it wasn’t fair for the company to receive taxpayer money, but refuse to pay us workers. This is my community and

21 LA member and Aramark employee, Rosalyn Markham tells WDSU about the financial hardships she faced due to lost income during Hurricane Isaac. September 2012.

I’m going to fight for what’s right,” Markum said.

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Budget Deal: The Right Move to Protect Middle Class Families

WASHINGTON, DC – After a deal was reached to avert the fiscal cliff, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“This deal is the right move to protect America’s middle class families, who were facing a New Year with higher taxes, and to prevent two million Americans from losing their unemployment benefits.

“Unfortunately, right wing extremists once again pushed the debate outside the mainstream by fighting to protect the wealthiest at the expense of the middle class. The leadership of the President, Majority Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi mitigated their extreme agenda and will require more of the richest Americans to pay their fair share to invest in our country.

“Working families have already made significant sacrifices in the name of deficit reduction. In 2013, working families need elected leaders to turn away from the politics of painful cuts and focus on creating good jobs and jumpstarting our economic recovery. The best way to get our economy moving again is to get people back to work.”

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Tonight is a Victory for Working Families

Helene O’Brien, President of SEIU Local 21 LA on the re-election of President Barack Obama, Baton Rouge Mayor Kipp Holden, Cedric Richmond of the Louisiana 2nd Congressional District and the runoff elections of union endorsed candidates James Gray of District E, New Orleans City Council and Dana Kaplan of District B, New Orleans City Council:

“This Election Season, SEIU Local 21 LA phonebankers made 23, 997 calls to frequent voters and we hit the streets in Baton Rouge and New Orleans by the hundreds.We interviewed candidates and didn’t hesitate to ask the tough questions. While our hard work paid off, it’s not over. We will stay in the streets until our agenda for working people is a reality.”

On Election Day, SEIU Local 21 LA showing our support for James Gray in the New Orleans City Council race for the District E seat. Mr. Gray made it to the December runoff.

State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow with SEIU Local 21 LA grassroots activists on November 3 before the team went out into Baton Rouge neighborhoods to get out the vote.

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Delores Jampierre: Talking Politics

Associate member Delores Jampierre has spent nearly two months leading up to Nov. 6 Election Day on the phones calling frequent voters to discuss working families issues.

Delores Jampierre is all politics these days and she is loving every bit of it.

It’s the week before Election Day and Jampierre, a dedicated associate member of SEIU Local 21 LA, is busy, busy, busy.

Associate members are allies who join with 21 LA union workers in the fight for good jobs.

Jampierre is on the phone nonstop at the union’s call center. On an average day, she makes as many as 250 calls. Of those calls, she has about 40 conversations. These aren’t brief chats with friends either. Jampierre is having tough conversations with frequent voters about a taboo topic: politics.

“We are asking people would they consider supporting a candidate that will fight for working families,” said Jampierre, the St. Helena Parish resident and retired union member. “We are calling and encouraging people to go out to vote. We are also encouraging them to bring others to the poll.”

Jampierre said some callers are more receptive than others, but she doesn’t allow this to deter her or dampen her spirits.

Her motto is to “address everyone with a deep respect,” regardless of how they act.

“I love talking to people about politics. Politics concerns people, ideas and change,” Jampierre said. “A strong union can make anything happen. If you stand alone, you won’t have anyone to fight for you.”

To learn more about associate membership, please call (504) 483-2125.



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SEIU Local 21 LA Announces Nov. 6 Endorsements

Local 21 LA has announced its November election endorsements, and topping the list are the re-elections of President Barack Obama, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden and Cedric Richmond of Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District.

View the complete list of endorsements including Baton Rouge Metro Council, New Orleans City Council and New Orleans School Board endorsements below.

U.S. President & Vice President
Barack Obama & Joe Biden

Louisiana 2nd Congressional District
Cedric Richmond-endorsed



Baton Rouge Mayor-President
Kipp Holden-endorsed

Baton Rouge Metro Council:

District 2:  Corey Alfred-favorable

                       Chana Banks-Daniel-favorable

District 6:   Donna Collins-Lewis-endorsed

District 7:  C. Denise Marcelle-endorsed

District  10:  Tara Wicker-endorsed

District 12:  Smokie Bourgeois-endorsed

New Orleans City Council

District B:   Dana Kaplan-endorsed

District E:  James Gray-endorsed

New Orleans School Board:

District 1:   Ira Thomas-endorsed

District 2:  Cynthia Cade-endorsed

District 3:  Karen Harper Royal and Brett Bonin: endorsed

District 4:  Lourdes Moran-endorsed

District 6:  Woody Koppel-endorsed

District 7:  Nolan Marshall, Jr.-endorsed

Constitutional Amendments:

Proposed Amendment #1:                               IN SUPPORT

Proposed Amendment #2:                               NO POSITION

Proposed Amendment #3:                               OPPOSED

Proposed Amendment #4:                               IN SUPPORT

Proposed Amendment #5:                               OPPOSED

Proposed Amendment #6:                               NO POSITION

Proposed Amendment #7:                               IN SUPPORT

Proposed Amendment #8:                               OPPOSED

Proposed Amendment #9:                              IN SUPPORT

Orleans proposition

Amends the City Charter to allow the City Council-at-Large seats to be separate elections.  YES

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21 LA Members Deliver Letter of Demands to Aramark

Watch SEIU Local 21 LA members deliver a letter of demands to Aramark on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The company, owned by private-equity investors, provides custodial services to RSD schools in New Orleans. Although the company was paid during Hurricane Isaac, it chose to pocket the profits instead of pay workers.

21 LA member and Aramark employee, Rosalyn Markham tells WDSU about the financial hardships she faced due to lost income during Hurricane Isaac.

21 LA Union President, Helene O'Brien, delivers the letter of demands to Aramark headquarters on September 18.


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Everett Armand’s Hurricane Isaac Story, Union Offering Disaster Relief for Members

Everett Armand knew it was time to evacuate his Laplace home when the flood waters reached his waist. He quickly gathered his wife, elderly mother-in-law and the eight-month-old baby the couple is caring for into a motor home.

“If it wasn’t for having a motor home, we wouldn’t have gotten out. I had to drive it through the water like it was a boat,” described Armand, a longtime SEIU 21 LA union member. “I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t have a chance to do anything. I had just woken up and it was time go.”

The Armands drove to New Iberia and spent three days in a hotel incurring lodging, food, gas and expenses for even basic needs like clothes and toiletries.

Tens of thousands of people throughout Louisiana and the Gulf Coast have been impacted by Hurricane Isaac. SEIU Local 21 LA has established the SEIU Local 21 LA Disaster Relief Fund to help Armand and other members who have lost so much during this trying ordeal.

“I didn’t have time to grab anything. My wife grabbed a few shirts and her work clothes and put it in a little bag, but everything else went under water,” said Armand, a Jefferson Parish Public School owner-operator bus driver.

Armand lost two vehicles and his home is a total loss.  Luckily, his bus was parked at another location and wasn’t damaged. He’s currently gutting his home (removing the sheetrock to prevent molding and additional problems) and trying to do as much of the work himself because he has no confidence the insurance company will adequately settle his claim.

The contents of 21 LA member Everett Armand's Laplace home that was flooded with 6 feet of water during Hurricane Isaac on August 29, 2012.


The inside of 21 LA member Everett Armand's Laplace home that was flooded with 6 feet of water during Hurricane Isaac on August 29, 2012.

Armand and his family are living in his motor home parked in the driveway of their Laplace house.

“I got my hands full, but I can handle it. It’s bad. It’s really bad. I still have water in the house. That will just have to dry,” Armand said. “The only thing I’m looking for is for people to keep praying for me.”

21 LA member Everett Armand's Laplace home was flooded with 6 feet of water during Hurricane Isaac on August 29, 2012.

The criteria for the distribution of SEIU Local 21 LA Disaster Relief Funds:

  1. Eligible only to dues-paying members: (members defined as those who were paying dues to the  Service Employees International Union Local as of August 31st, 2012)
  2.  Have been affected by one of the following
  • Are among those who were displaced from their homes due to a natural disaster resulting in a “State of Emergency” being declared by the Governor of the state in which they reside;
  • Suffered loss of pay or property as a result of a natural disaster;
  • Suffered from lack of medical attention for yourself or dependants as a result of a natural disaster or it’s effects;

 Members may qualify for up financial assistance in an amount to be determined by the amount of loss and the availability of funds to members meeting at least one of the criteria above. Funds will be distributed on a first come first serve basis. If funds are available and there are still significant needs we may at a later date decide to make an additional contribution.

To apply for the SEIU 21 LA Disaster Relief Fund, please call (504) 483-2125.

Harold Sterling of SEIU Local 21 LA assists in the clean of 21 LA member Everett Armand's Laplace home.

Harold Sterling of SEIU Local 21 LA assists in the clean up of 21 LA member Everett Armand’s Laplace home.

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Social Justice Social II at M. Francis Gallery

Organizations and individuals with a passion for improving New Orleans for the 99 percent gathered on August 21 at the M. Francis Gallery at 604 Julia St. in the Crescent City for the Social Justice Social II.

The mixer was co-sponsored by Service Employees International Union Local 21 LA (SEIU), Neighborhoods Partnership Network, OxFam America, AVODAH,  Puentes New Orleans and VAYLA New Orleans.

21 LA board member, Belinda Antoine speaks with a member of the delegation from the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training.

Participants played a round of Social Justice Bingo, a take on the age-old game, where issues such as education reform, good jobs, food justice and healthcare replaced the letters and numbers of the traditional bingo card. There was even a slot for Social Justice Bingo players to fill in the blank with an issue not already appearing on the card.

Guests came from as far as Japan. That’s right, a delegation from the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training was in attendance.

Myesha Francis, the proprietor of the only black-owned gallery on Julia Street, a thriving art stroll in the city’s central business district, offered her second anniversary print, the breathtaking image, A Sweet Starry Night in NOLA at a super duper discounted rate of $25 especially for this event!

A Sweet Starry Night in NOLA by Myesha Francis of the M. Francis Gallery

To view images from the Social Justice Social II please click the link below:

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New Orleanians Unite at the Social Justice Social

The first-ever Social Justice Social, held on July 31 at Ur Way Yogurt & Coffee Bar, was a success. More than 70 New Orleanians came together to discuss issues like racial justice, environmental justice, food justice and good jobs. The SJS was sponsored by SEIU Local 21 LA, Safe Streets Strong Communities, PlayNOLA and Junebug Productions.


Safe Streets Strong Communities

SEIU Local  21 LA president, Helene O’Brien and

Research and Policy Coordinator, Jayeesha Dutta play Social Justice Bingo.

SEIU Local 21 LA Political Director, LaTanja Silvester checks in participants.

To view more images from the Social Justice Social, please click here.

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Social Justice Social: Mix and Mingle with New Orleanians who Care About the Future of Our city

The Social Justice Social is a chance to come out to meet your fellow New Orleanians. SJS will be held Tuesday, July 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ur Way Yogurt & Coffee Bar located at 3001 Tulane Ave.

The event is sponsored by SEIU Local 21 LA, PlayNOLA, JuneBug Productions and Safe Streets.

There will be complimentary yogurt, wine and fun. Everyone is invited.

For more information, call SEIU Local 21 LA at 483-2125.

It’s not too late to RSVP! Tell a friend.  Bring a friend.  Join the party to change our city.


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