Cleveland Janitors & Community Members Rally for Fair Contract

Local 1 members and supporters gather in Cleveland in support of a fair contract.

With their union contract set to expire at the end of April, over 100 janitors and community leaders rallied at the janitors’ contract convention to call on the richest 1% to do their fair share and create good middle class jobs for our city. The convention kicked off the janitors’ contract negotiations, which begin in April and impact more than 500 janitors across the city. Speakers included Local 1 members, Mayor Frank Jackson, City Councilmember Jay Westbrook, and John Ryan on behalf of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson addresses Local 1 members.

Cleveland janitors clean the offices of major financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase, US Bank, and Wells Fargo. The CEOs of these banks are among the highest paid in the country. They are also foreclosure leaders in Ohio.

“Every night, I clean the building where Huntington Bank has its offices. Then I go home to a neighborhood full of foreclosures because these same bank executives are kicking people out of their homes,” says Lynn Jackson, a janitor at 200 Public Square. “Something is really wrong when working people are losing their homes while bankers are richer than ever.”

With a poverty rate more than double the state poverty rate and a median household income less than half the state median household income, Cleveland is in desperate need of good jobs. That’s why janitors and their allies are calling 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.

“Middle-class Americans built this country, and it’s middle-class jobs that enable Ohioans to buy a home and send their kids to college. But too often, the needs of the middle class are cast aside in favor of the wealthiest Americans,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said in a statement of support sent to the janitors. “One reason why Cleveland is a great city is because downtown building owners and tenants value the hard work of the loyal and dedicated janitors.”

In spite of their hard work, Cleveland janitors are considered “very low income” according to Federal HUD income limits. The average Cleveland janitor is paid just over $21,000 a year. The Economic Policy Institute estimates the cost of basic necessities for a one-parent, one-child family in Cleveland to be about $35,135 a year. The estimated cost of living for a family of 4 is $53,354.

The janitors’ contract expires April 30th. Negotiations will begin in mid-April.

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