As Contract Expiration Dates Loom for 160,000 Janitors Across the Country, Thousands of Janitors and Supporters Rally in 22 Cities to Support Good Jobs Our Economy Needs

Chicago, IL — SEIU Local 1 members and supporters rallied together on September 28 in 9 cities, joining workers in 22 other major cities* across the country in support of good jobs in the U.S. Janitors spoke out for fair wages, quality affordable health care, and full-time, family-sustaining jobs for their communities.

As the nation’s attention turns towards job creation, thousands of low-wage janitors took to the streets to support jobs that have created a path to the middle class for hundreds of thousands of workers in some of our most hard-pressed cities. But with rising costs in recent years, janitors, like many Americans, have seen their standard of living erode and are being asked to work harder for less. At the same time, corporations are breaking profits records while paying less corporate tax.

Urszula Domaradzki, a Chicago janitor for 25 years commented on today’s actions: “Too many workers in our community and across the country are working hard every day but are not able to make ends meet. That’s why I’m here, to speak out for good jobs for our communities.”

Maria Sada, a Milwaukee janitor, says: “We’re here today because these were good jobs and now they are gone. We need to protect and defend what we as union janitors have fought for: good jobs with benefits. We shouldn’t be replacing jobs that created a path to the middle class with low-wage, no benefit jobs.”

Sandra Ellington, a Cleveland janitor, agrees: “Poverty and unemployment have taken away the American dream… the home, kids in college, money in the bank. It has destroyed the hope of a better tomorrow. In our community, I have seen families walk away from homes they have occupied for years. I’ve seen children begging on street corners so they can feed themselves. Good jobs that provide decent wages, benefits and a voice at work can stop poverty and make our community stronger.”

Contracts for 160,000 janitors will expire over the next year, bringing the debate over the role private employers play in our economic recovery to major cities across the country. The rallies come at a time when our state is in desperate need of good jobs that can revitalize the economy and restore services to local communities. With the country’s poverty rate at an alarming high, the campaign underscores a key component of our economic recovery—private employers need to do more to contribute to job growth and provide good, stable jobs.

Today’s rallies set the stage for a showdown with building owners and contractors over agreements that create good jobs, boost employment, and help restore balance to our economy.

*Participating Cities Include: Chicago, Houston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Providence, Los Angeles, Orange County/Irvine, San Diego/La Jolla, San Jose, Sacramento and San Francisco.

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Service Employees International Union Local 1 unites more than 50,000 workers throughout Mid-America.  SEIU security officers, food service workers, and janitors are working with community leaders to advocate for the quality services the public deserves and the good jobs our communities need.

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