Gomez had planned to deliver a letter to Davis today, asking him for help to save her home — a home foreclosed on by U.S. Bank. Without this intervention Gomez and her family would be out on the street March 11.
“I work hard every day to keep Richard Davis’ office clean, but my family and I need help to save our home,” Rosalina said. I am glad a representative of U.S. Bank has decided to meet with me because everyone in our community needs good jobs to keep our homes, and it is the right thing for them to do.”
Davis, honored today with a CEO of the Year award by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal at a massive banquet, was the target of a Local 26 organizing campaign to call attention to income disparities and massive bailouts for the banking industry.
According to Local 26 President Javier Morillo, helping pressure US Bank to go to the table with Rosalina Gomez is a victory, but doesn’t go far enough. Thousands of union members, and thousands more people in the wider community, are at risk of losing their homes or being unable to afford badly needed medical treatment because of the economic crisis.
“We’re asking US bank to do what we’re asking all banks to do, which is to help people facing foreclosure to stay in their homes,” urged Morillo at the action today.
CEO Davis, was paid over $6 million last year. His bank received over $6 billion dollars from last year’s federal bank bailout. Gomez, a mother of two, who works 40 hours a week, earned $26,000 last year. After filing bankruptcy the Gomez home, purchased for $200,000, was snapped up by US Bank for $35,000 on September 11, 2009.
Gomez left a crowd of union members, organizational allies and locals who gathered to support her appeal to CEO Davis, tearful yet energized as she described her predicament. Gomez explained how layoffs, cuts in hours and high, unreimbursed medical expenses left her and her husband unable to make their house payments despite two incomes and multiple attempts to juggle their finances. Payments on their Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) kept increasing as expenses from Rosalina’s surgery toppled their family’s financial security.
“The insurance didn’t cover any of the cost of my surgery. But we talked to the hospital and came up with a payment plan,” said Gomez. Like many other Local 26 janitors, Gomez feels their health insurance plan is inadequate and too expensive. Even so, initial proposals from cleaning contractors would have given them the ability to reduce all janitors to part-time so that they would be ineligible for healthcare benefits.
“This fight isn’t about an individual, or just about the members of Local 26,” he said. “It is about all of us who are frustrated with seeing our friends, our families, our coworkers losing their jobs, their homes and their lives.”
Janitors at ABM and Harvard, who clean commercial office buildings and corporate headquarters across the Twin Cities region, have voted to authorize a strike over unfair labor practices and could walk off the job at any time. They have been bargaining for months with their employers, and they have been working without a contract since January 8.