Twenty SEIU* Local 1 janitors and supporters were arrested at a rally held Thursday afternoon outside of a BMO Harris Bank location in downtown Chicago, according to the union. The rally was in "protest [of] BMO's poor treatment of its contract employees, which is deepening the divide between the richest 1% and the rest of working America."
The janitors were joined by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and faith leaders in their call for better wages and benefits. The janitors who work at BMO's Naperville office earn a good deal less than those who work at the company's headquarters in Chicago and they also receive no benefits. The union is negotiating contracts for about 12,000 members, who will see their contract expire on April 5. More than 130,000 janitors across the nation will see their contracts expire this year and next, with Chicago being the first city tasked with hammering out a deal.
"The BMO janitors' struggle is an example of what's wrong with our economy. But this problem is solvable--there is a clear road map for what we need to change," said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. "Instead of driving workers deeper into poverty, our country needs good jobs that build working families up and raise standards for all workers."
Check back with Progress Illinois for full coverage of the rally.
UPDATE (4/3/15): According to Chicago police news affairs, no arrests were made at the protest, but 19 people were issued citations for obstructing traffic.
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