Janitors & Community Leaders Rally for Good Jobs for the 99% and the Revival of the Middle Class

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         

February 26, 2012

Contact:         Leslie Mendoza Kamstra, (773) 896-7815, mendozal@seiu1.org

                              Izabela Miltko, (708) 655-9681, miltkoi@seiu1.org

As Chicago-area janitors prepare to bargain a new union contract that affects 13,000 workers …

Janitors & Community Leaders Rally for Good Jobs for the 99% and the Revival of the Middle Class

 CHICAGO — With their union contract set to expire April 8, about 3,500 Chicago-area janitors and community supporters rallied at the Chicago Theatre Sunday and marched to Chase Bank to call on the richest 1% to do their part to create and protect good middle class jobs for Chicago. The convention kicked off the janitors’ contract negotiations, which begin in March and impact more than 13,000 janitors in SEIU Local 1.

 “The richest 1% have helped themselves to higher salaries and bigger bonuses at the expense of good middle class jobs for the rest of us,” said Tom Balanoff, President of SEIU Local 1.  “Chicago needs good jobs, not more money put into pockets of the richest Americans and big corporations.”

With the third highest poverty rate and the highest rate of racial income disparity of any major city in the U.S., Chicago’s working families are working harder than ever to secure a better future that seems further out of reach every day.

“We’re struggling because it seems that in Chicago no matter how hard you work, you’re stuck and can’t get ahead.” said Ed Washington, a janitor at Yale Elementary School in Chicago. “We’re working to change that. I want my children to have a better life than I had, just like my parents wanted a better life for me”

Bargaining a new union contract with fair wage increases will enable Chicago janitors to provide for their families, but that alone won’t restore balance to the economy. That’s why Chicago janitors are joining with workers across the city, with clergy and community leaders, and with the rest of the 99% to call on banks and corporate executives to do their part to fix our economy—to create good jobs, raise wages, and pay their fair share in taxes. Janitors ended the rally with a march to Chase Bank, urging the multi-billion dollar corporation to do its part.

“Chase Bank made $8.5 billion in profit last year.  It would take me or any Chicago janitor who keeps Chase clean 31 years to make what Chase profits in just one hour,” said Urszula Domaradzki, a downtown janitor.  “If the 1% just paid their fair share, Chicago would have more good jobs, better schools, and safer neighborhoods”

Chicago janitors clean the equivalent of nearly 33,000 miles of office space every night. In spite of their hard work, the average Chicago janitor is paid about $20,000 below the estimated annual cost of living for a family of four in the Chicago area.

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SEIU Local 1 unites 50,000 property service workers in the central United States, including janitors, security officers and residential doormen.  Together we work to build strength for all working people, on the job and in our communities.

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