UNITED WORKERS RECOGNIZED AS REAL TROUBLEMAKERS

UNITED WORKERS RECOGNIZED AS REAL TROUBLEMAKERS

In recognition of our historic human rights victory, Labor Notes presented the United Workers with a Troublemaker Award. Just weeks before, cleaners at Camden Yards returned to work at a living wage for the first time in the stadium's history. And whoever said that making trouble is its own reward? Of course, we've been making trouble for some time. Five years ago, cleaners were paid less than the minimum wage - $4 an hour. Through courage, unity, and commitment, and under the threat of the Living Wages Hunger Strike, the cleaners at Camden Yards secured this historic human rights victory last September. Now is time for both celebration and reflection. We celebrate the victory because the human right to a living wage is now respected for the cleaners at Camden Yards. We reflect on what this means for the community at large, on how we can extend and expand from this victory, and on what steps are required to ensure that the victory remains in place. Since September we have made it clear to the Maryland Stadium Authority that we expected that every cleaner who worked on a regular basis in years past have a fair opportunity to work at the new living wage. To this end, cleaners met and participated in a mass meeting to define our terms and to prepare a registry of past cleaners so that we could fight on behalf of each member. Even with last September's victory, this process has required that we keep feet to the fire, involving extensive meetings with the new contractor. We will keep working out details as the season advances and will continue to monitor how well the rights of workers are being respected. We have also reflected on the future of our ongoing campaign to secure human rights - including the right to freedom from poverty - for all Marylanders. The fight for living wages at Camden Yards was our first such organizing effort. Through this we've learned many lessons and have been meeting with our allies to gain insights on how to proceed. We've learned how important the fight for immigration rights is if immigrant rights are to be respected, since moving jobs out of the underground economy can actually threaten work for workers who are undocumented. We are also learning how to structure demands at the early stages of a campaign in ways that lead to enforcement and oversight. As the baseball season begins it's time to celebrate our first campaign victory. We'll stay focused on ensuring that the victory results in fair treatment of workers and living wages at Camden Yards. In the fall, soon after the end of the season, we plan to launch our next campaign. So join us as we celebrate victory - 2008 is the Year of Human Rights!