On International Women’s Day… Working Women in Chicago Call on Corporations to Do More


March 8, 2012

Contact: Nell McNamara, (206) 852-5934 mcnamaran@seiu1.org

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

On International Women’s Day…

Working Women in Chicago Call on Corporations to Do More

Chicago janitors making $20k less than our city’s cost of living ask billion dollar companies, whose buildings they keep clean, to do more for working women and families

CHICAGO –As unequal pay for equal work continues to plague women in Chicago and across the world, hundreds of Chicago janitors and supporters rallied on Thursday at the Chicago Board of Trade and the Willis Tower. With an annual wage that is $20,000 below the cost of living for a family, women janitors in Chicago are struggling to provide for their families. At the same time, the corporations whose offices these janitors clean are making record profits- the Chicago Board of Trade alone profited $1.8 billion in 2011. As they bargain together for better jobs, the hard working women of this city called on the richest corporations to do their fair share and create good middle class jobs for Chicago.

“We work so hard to provide for our families, but we are struggling to make ends meet,” says Elizabeth Deshazo, a janitor in downtown Chicago. “It’s not fair that CEOs of big corporations make more in just one day than we janitors do in a year. I dream of a more balanced economy where my ten grandchildren will be able to have a better future.”

International Women’s Day fell on the backdrop of the janitors’ contract negotiations this week, which will impact more than 13,000 janitors in SEIU Local 1. Those janitors—many of whom are women—are uniting to create a pathway out of poverty for their families and a better future for their children. SEIU Local 1’s janitorial contract expires on April 8.

Laura Garza, Vice President at SEIU Local 1 and Director of the Commercial Division, was out recognizing the progress that women have made while preparing for contract negotiations. “Women today are still paid 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. But unionization is proven to raise female workers’ wages by two dollars an hour. Uniting together and bargaining a fair contract helps women get access to decent wages, affordable family health care, and a voice on the job. That’s what we are fighting for now.”

Women in unions are better able to provide for their families and ensure a better future for their children than those without a union. Bargaining a new union contract with fair wage increases will enable Chicago janitors to make ends meet, but that alone won’t restore balance to the economy. That’s why Chicago’s janitors joined with working women across the city 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.

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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