Chicago janitors represented by SEIU* Local 1 took to the streets Thursday morning as they began gearing up for pending contract negotiations.
SEIU Local 1 leaders and dozens of Chicago custodians from institutional and commercial services kicked off their 2015 janitorial contract campaign on the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Their contracts are set to expire in April.
The unionized janitors, including many who clean Chicago Public Schools (CPS) buildings, rolled out their campaign calling for better wages and benefits outside of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, 4445 S. Drexel Boulevard.
"Of course, Martin Luther King, he stood for many things, but people fail to realize he died supporting the sanitation strike in Memphis, supporting sanitation workers who were being treated unfair," said Lonnell Saffold, director of institutional services for SEIU Local 1. "We believe that it's only right we be here to commemorate him and realize that his struggle is not going to die."
Low-wage school custodians from Elgin, Wheaton, Rockford and other areas picketed outside of the Illinois Association of School Boards conference in Chicago Friday morning, demanding paid holiday and sick days.
Chanting "Hey, District U46. Your low wages make us sick," the custodians, hired by school district contractors and represented by SEIU* Local 1, also called for better pay and health benefits.
"We want to show (school board officials) that we're not happy with what they pay to our custodians," Carolina Villalobos, an SEIU Local 1 organizer, said outside of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where the conference was held.
new report shows that the pay gap between top University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) administrators and the school's clerical and
technical staff have worsened over recent years to the point where many
employees have trouble supporting their families and affording basic
AFSCME Council 31, which represents frontline University of Illinois employees, issued the “University of Inequality?”
report Monday, which found that 68 full-time UIUC workers currently make
less than $23,550, which is the poverty threshold for a family of four.
Meanwhile, the university’s 50 highest-paid employees are set to rake in
an average salary of $397,141 each this year, which is a 25 percent increase
in average top earnings compared to 2010.
After more than 70 percent of O’Hare’s recently hired janitors voted in favor of SEIU* Local 1
union representation, a small group of workers gathered with supporting
aldermen at City Hall Tuesday to urge Mayor Rahm Emanuel to push the
contractor to recognize the union.
“In a climate where everybody
is trying to figure out how to squeeze the bottom line, the only way to
protect workers is to have union representation,” said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) in an interview with Progress Illinois.
Members and leaders of three unions representing workers in the Chicago Public
Schools (CPS) system criticized the city’s recent round of school actions in a joint
report issued Tuesday, saying school closings hurt children,
struggling neighborhoods, and working families.
They’ve called on the Chicago Board of Education, CPS and Mayor Rahm Emanuel not to close any schools.
schools are supposed to create strong neighborhoods,” said SEIU* Local 1 spokeswoman Izabela Miltko. “We
all believe that Chicago needs to protect and invest in its children and
not tear apart communities, tear apart schools.”
The new Sani Seats being used by controversial city contractor United Maintenance Inc. are making headlines for their alleged lack of cleanliness.
After receiving a tip from a reader about the inefficiency of the SaniSeats, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulous wrote about a reporter's experience after they trekked down to O'Hare to do their own check on the cleanliness of the toilet system, which is meant to keep toilets clean by using a rotating wrapper on the seats for each new user.