The Plain Dealer: Service Employees International Union stages rally on Public Square seeking ‘justice for janitors’

Photo by: Mark Duncan, Associated Press

Custodial workers for Services Employees International Union Local 1 stage a rally Wednesday afternoon in downtown Cleveland to bring awareness to their plight of seeing shrinking wages and expanding work loads.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Unionized Cleveland-area custodial workers staged a rally Wednesday afternoon on Public Square seeking “Justice for Janitors.”

About 50 janitors staged a 30-minute rally to raise public awareness of their plight, said Dennis Dingow, city director of Service Employees International Union Local 1.

He said janitors, like many Americans, have seen their standard of living erode, and they are being asked to work harder for less, while businesses are making record profits and paying less in corporate taxes.

“Cleaning costs are the second-biggest expense for a building owner next to utilities,” Dingow said. “They need bodies to do the cleaning, but the housing market has compressed and jobs are endangered.”

Contracts for 160,000 Service Employees International Union janitors nationwide — employed predominantly by commercial business owners — will expire over the next year starting next month in Pittsburgh.

Contracts in Cleveland, which has 700 SEIU members, will expire April 30.

Similar union rallies were held in 21 other major cities from Boston to Los Angeles.

Dingow said Gov. John Kasich has proven to be unfriendly toward workers in the public sector, and “if the public sector loses its fight, so will the private sector we service.”

“”Union officials told members to vote no Nov. 8 on Issue 2, a referendum on the new state law limiting public employees’ collective-bargaining powers. They noted that collective bargaining is the best and fairest way to negotiate wages.

Randa Bunce, 60, of Lakewood, who has done custodial work for the past 30 years, said she fears what a new SEIU contract could bring.

“Nowadays, anything can happen with these new contracts,” Bunce said. “Things are happening today I’d never dream would happen.”

Dingow said rallies like Wednesday’s come at a time when Ohio is in “desperate need” of good jobs that will revitalize the economy.

By Pat Galbincea, The Plain Dealer
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: pgalbincea@plaind.com, 216-999-5159

SOURCE: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/09/services_employers_internation.html

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