On June 20, 2018, CTUL will receive the 2018 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, presented
by Jobs with Justice in recognition of our work to transform the retail janitorial industry in the
Twin Cities metro area. U.S. Representative Keith Ellison will present CTUL members with
the award in Washington D.C.
We are honored to receive an award given in the memory of Eleanor Roosevelt, a tireless
advocate for the rights of workers, who was one of the driving forces that moved the 1948
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares that “Everyone who works has the
right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence
worthy of human dignity.” Unfortunately, her dream of universal human rights is far from a
reality, and it is up to us to continue the fight.
Over the last decade, CTUL has been fighting to make the Twin Cities metro area a place where
workers can live and work with dignity, a place that’s more equitable and just for everyone,
and where everyone has the opportunity to live their best lives.
However, in today’s economy, the wealthiest 0.1% have placed the burdens and risks of the economy
on poor and marginalized communities. The wealthiest 15 companies in Minnesota have accumulated
over $1 trillion in assets. If one were to take just 10% of that wealth, one could double to wages of
every single minimum wage worker in the state of Minnesota for 20 years.
This has very real and violent consequences on our lives. Some of these consequences are immediate,
such as the thousands of non-union construction workers who are hurt in horrific workplace accidents
due to the negligence of subcontracted companies that are trying to cut corners in order to win bids on
multi-million dollar projects. While developers walk away with millions in profits, injured workers are
thrown out like old and broken tools. Similar chains of profit at the cost of severe exploitation can be seen
in many other low-wage
industries. Other consequences play out over decades. The constant drip of poverty and exploitation means
that the poorest Minnesotans live on average 8 years less than the wealthiest Minnesotans.
When people from marginalized communities begin to view themselves as leaders, and when they make the
connection between their every day working conditions and the 0.1% who run the economy, change is inevitable.
Through the success of the retail janitorial campaign, we estimate that an additional $5.6 million per year is shifted
from the 0.1% and is invested in the poorest communities in the Twin Cities metro area. But this is not enough.
We invite you to join us in continuing the build the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt, where we all enjoy the right to
basic human dignity. This will not happen without a powerful movement led by marginalized communities that
focuses attention on the 0.1% who drive the economy. We need to demand a place at the table in deciding not just
working conditions, but ultimately in deciding how our economy works.