Jermaine Gillen: Marching in Memphis to Make History


Jermaine, a shop steward at the Ambassador Chicago, has worked there as a housekeeping supervisor for 13 years. Jermaine travelled to Memphis with Local 1 to make history and march in the same steps as Dr. King and the sanitation workers.

Q: How has the trip impacted you?
A: 50 years after being given a glimpse of what a better life could be like, it’s still only a vision. We are still fighting for a living wage and healthcare. We have seen the vision, but we, the unions across the nation, are still fighting to bring it to life. We no longer want a glimpse of what can be seen through the door of injustice and inequality, but we are now here to remove that door and take what’s ours!

Q: What was a highlight from Memphis?
A: The highlight of going to Memphis was hearing Dr. King’s daughter deliver a speech on the injustice and inequalities that are still alive today in American society and workforce.

Q: How has being a union leader changed your life?
A: Being an involved leader has made me aware of different people’s lives and situations. I’ve learned to listen and teach people about how to fight for each other and themselves. There is power in numbers. I realized we all want the same opportunity to have better working conditions and wages.

Jermaine is now working to make sure that his coworkers who work alone in guest rooms or restrooms will be equipped with panic buttons by July 1, 2018. In his free time, he enjoys biking, spending time with his family, and being an active member of his church.