Living wage organizing works!

Betty2 Betty Martin (on the right) has worked for the Buffalo School District as a bus aide for over 20 years. As she puts it, she is the “first line of defense” for Buffalo’s school children. She is the first person a child sees on his/her way to school and the last person he/she sees before going home. Betty has broken up fights between students, warded off assaults from students, waited with children when parents haven’t shown up for pick-ups, and calmed a bus load of kids after the bus was caught in a gun fight.

When the Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), a group funded by the Presbyterian Hunger Program, met Betty she was at top pay with the district, $9.05/hour with no benefits. Starting bus aides were earning just $7.66/hour. She had just risen to the rank of union president and returned a call from CEJ to find out more about who we were and how she could help herself and her coworkers secure a living wage.

Although Betty’s fight is far from over, she has built her skills as a leader over the last two years, mobilized and engaged her coworkers, and played a huge role in securing passage of a living wage policy at the Buffalo School Board level – a policy impacting nearly 1,000 school service professionals.