The rally was held in coordination with others held in 22 cities across the nation. They mark the beginning of a series of events in anticipation of contract negotiations within the next year, when contracts for 160,000 janitors are set to expire. Negotiations with the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago are set to start in March, said Laura Garza, vice president of SEIU Local 1. Traditionally, she said, those talks set the tone for contract negotiations with the city. The local contracts expire in April.
The rally was also meant to draw attention to the sacrifices the workers have made due to the economic recession, Garza said.
Elizabeth Starr, who cleans classrooms at a number of Chicago Public Schools, said that due to layoffs, the workload has nearly doubled, while wages have remain the same.
“We can use more money, but right now we need more people,” she said.
By Alejandra Cancino Tribune reporter
(Photos by SEIU Local 1)