Why Organize School Workers?
Texas is home to the greatest disparity between rich and poor in the US. Across the state, one in three children lives below the national poverty line and 15% of families are food insecure. In the past 10 years in Texas, the income of the top 5% has increased at almost 8 times the rate of the bottom 5%. Public sector workers in Texas, in particular school workers, are subjected to an anti-worker environment created by the 14b clause of the Taft-Hartley Labor Act.
By creating what are known as ‘right to work’ states, primarily found in the South, this provision marginalizes public workers by denying them the right to collective bargaining or collective actions. Public school workers were targeted by SWU because of their status as the lowest paid public employees in the South and in Texas. School workers most often are also residents of the school district and have children in local schools. More than 70% of school worker families in San Antonio and South Texas survive on salaries below the national poverty level.
Living Wage Campaign
SWU’s Living Wage Campaign aims to reestablish dignity and value of work, demand decent living standards in communities, ensure that families can sustain themselves, reduce the gap in salaries within the school district, and reward workers for years of experience. School workers are parents and community residents, and the pay and benefits they bring home is directly related to the wellbeing of their family and community. From the beginning, SWU has taken a holistic, cross-sector approach to organizing, engaging the children of members and other community residents and organizations into the fight for just wages.
SWU devised an hourly wage based on the Fair Market Rent value for a two bedroom apartment and follows HUD standards that no family should spend more than 30% of their monthly incomes on rent. The living wage is $13.75 per hour in San Antonio, $17.98 in Austin and $12.21 in Hondo. As independent authorities in Texas, school board members are the only officials empowered to change pay scales. Having won two living wage resolutions in the Edgewood and Donna Independent School Districts, SWU’s school worker Living Wage Campaign is ongoing in Austin, North Side, Northeast, South San and San Antonio Independent School Districts.
To become a school worker member of SWU please contact Che.