The biggest ever meeting of UNI Global Property Services unions took place in Chicago this week.
Affiliates from around the world attended the global meeting, hosted by SEIU Local 1, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the sector. There was representation for workers from more countries than ever before including India, Nepal, New Zealand and Zambia.
Head of UNI Property Services Eddy Stam said: “Over the past two decades we’ve faced challenges, but we’ve also seen a great deal of success and grown significantly as a sector. There are so many examples of UNI unions fighting tirelessly for their members. Take the securing of a living wage for cleaners in New Zealand or the recruitment of 8,000 new members to the Zambian Security Union. Those wins demonstrate yet again that a focus on organising – a key theme of this years’ conference – is key to union success.”
Delegates put forward ideas and building plans to strengthen the fight back against right wing agendas and the shifting global political landscape. The worker representatives heard from key-note speaker, SEIU International President and labour activist Mary Kay Henry on the continuing drive for social justice for all.
The conference also honoured Tom Balanoff, who stepped down from his long-time role of sector President.
“Tom has been a fantastic leader,” said UNI General Secretary Christy Hoffman. “He’s a trailblazer in the global campaigning landscape, supporting unions in taking on multinationals and securing global agreements with the likes of Securitas, G4S and ISS, and we know that Rocio will build on these successes to move the sector forward.”
Balanoff is being succeeded by SEIU International Executive Vice President, Rocio Sáenz. A long-time advocate for workers’ rights, Sáenz was part of the team who developed the successful US Justice for Janitors campaign. She began organizing with SEIU in 1988, and since then has helped workers win better wages and conditions across the country. She is also a strong advocate for immigration rights.