Beginning in August 2007, FRESC’s Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice provided faith and community support for workers at the Downtown Denver Hyatt Hotel who were trying to win their very first union contract before the arrival of delegates for the Democratic National Convention. Five clergy sat in on a bargaining session and advocated with the Union for a reduction in the number of rooms that housekeeping staff were required to clean. Many of these workers are women and were experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome and other physical maladies due to excessive workload. Now, instead of each worker having to clean 32 rooms a day, they only have to clean 16. Workers also won better wages and health care.
Rev. Daniel Klawitter and Rev. Aaron McEmrys with members of the UNITE HERE! Bargaining Team.
IWJ-CO is supporting various worker justice campaigns including:
Low-wage food service employees at the University of Denver in
their struggle to form a union for better wages and health care (see video below).
A Stop Wage Theft Campaign with El Centro Humanitario Para Los
Trabajadores, Denver’s Day Laborer Center. For more info on the
national problem of Wage Theft, please click here.
April, 2009: IWJ-CO provided direct clergy
support to help win a Worker Retention executive order covering city
contracts in Denver. The Mayor’s executive order gives workers like
janitors and window cleaners an opportunity to keep their jobs when a
city contract changes hands….thus preventing unnecessary lay-offs and
retaining well-trained employees who do quality service work for the
Feb/March/April 2009: IWJ-CO’s clergy
leadership team engaged in advocacy work to help members of ATU
(Amalgamated Transit Union) Local 1001 win a binding arbitration ruling
from the Department of Labor to assist them in reaching a fair contract
for RTD’s bus drivers.
Fall, 2008: IWJ-CO organized 55 clergy
from across the State to publically oppose and defeat two anti-labor
Ballot Amendments in Colorado: Amendment 47 (a right-to-work-for less
bill) and Amendment 49 (paycheck deception). Amendment 47 would have
limited the ability of workers like firefighters and nurses to work as a
group in order to advocate together for better working conditions,
while Amendment 49 would have weakened the ability of union workers to
fund their own organizations. Colorado voters defeated both of these
anti-worker amendments in the November 2008 election!
In the summer of 2008, Interfaith Worker
Justice organized 30 Colorado clergy and pastors to sign onto a letter
supporting the Justice for Janitors campaign in Denver.
Thanks to help and support from the community, including the
witness of people from various religious traditions, Denver-area union
janitors successfully negotiated a new four-year master cleaning
contract—the first contract to cover the entire Denver Metro area—which
includes virtually every office building in the region. The agreement is
mutually beneficial to both janitors and cleaning contractors, and is
also good for tenants and building owners because it adds new incentives
for long-term employment (which, in turn, increases the quality of
"There were a lot of us who started crying when we heard about the
contract,” said Rita Jaramillo, an SEIU member and janitor for 12 years
in Downtown Denver. “Wages are going up, and there will be 500 more
people eligible for family health care. This is really going to change
people’s lives—people who used to have to make impossible choices
between food and medicine.”
Highlights of the new contract include:
Average annual salary increase of 4%. Workers won
across-the-board salary increases that average 4% throughout the Denver
Metro area. A worker in downtown Denver making $10 per hour (after 18
months on the job) will end up making $11.60 at the end of the contract.
Expansion of family health care benefits at NO COST to workers. There
are currently 220 workers eligible for full family health care benefits
(only full-time workers in downtown Denver were eligible under the
current contract). At the end of the new contract, 500 more workers will
be eligible for full family health care benefits in Cherry Creek,
Aurora and the Denver Tech Center .
More full-time jobs. All workers in buildings over
250,000 square feet will be automatically converted to full-time by
2012. More full-time jobs will eliminate the need for many to have
second jobs and will allow workers to spend more time at home with their