2023 ULEC R.E.D. Gala "William M. Ashby" Award Honoree

The Urban League of Essex County is proud to present the

2023 R.E.D. Gala

William M. Ashby Award to


Over the last two decades, 32BJ has organized over one hundred thousand new members who others said could not be organized because they were low-wage subcontracted workers, because of their immigration status, or because racial, ethnic, and language divides could not be overcome.

Local 32BJ has helped workers see what they have in common and effectively organized to turn poverty wages into living wages, providing an effective voice for workers both on the job and in their communities.  During a period when union membership continued its decades-long decline, 32BJ grew dramatically, with 61 percent of its growth the result of new organizing.

Almost all the newly organized workers are people of color, and many are new immigrants. Unionization has vastly improved their wages, hours, and working conditions.  To note a few examples, predominantly Latina immigrant janitors in New Jersey saw their hourly pay go from $5.15 in 2001 to $17.70 in 2021, with the addition of family health care, a pension, and strong language protecting against sexual harassment and assault.

In Washington, D.C., largely African and African American security officers organized in 2007 and saw hourly wages increase from $8.25 to $19.29 in 2021, with health care and an employer-contributed 401(K).  And forty thousand airport workers in New York and New Jersey are going from $7.50 in 2014 to $19 per hour this year.

32BJ SEIU’s 175,000 members are making New Jersey and the world a better place by being an organizing voice for all working people – Black, Brown, and White – in pursuit of a more just society for the present and future.

Accepting on behalf of the Local SEIU 32BJ is Kevin Brown, New Jersey State Director and Executive Vice President.