Downtown Chicago Janitors Ready to Strike [NBC Chicago]


Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012 | Updated 9:55 PM CDT

Chicago’s downtown janitors are ready to strike.

The group’s union president said janitors at downtown Chicago office buildings will walk out if a contract compromise isn’t met before contracts for 13,000 janitors in Chicago expire on April 8.

“We certainly hope its not going to come to a strike, but on the other hand we’re fighting for the future. What happens in the nest three years is going to determine what happens to our children for the next 30 years,” said Tom Balanoff, Service Employees’ International Union Local 1 president.

He told the Chicago Sun-Times the Building Owners and Managers Association with which the union is negotiating has “made progress toward insurance,” but wage demands remain unmet.

BOMA Chicago declined to comment to NBC Chicago on Wednesday, but the organization’s executive vice president told the Sun-Times he is “cautiously optimistic” a deal will be reached.

On Saturday, more than 2,000 Chicago janitors voted to give their bargaining committee the power to strike.

“We are the 99 percent. We’re living in poverty while our bosses are getting richer. It’s time to stand up for good jobs. This contract is about more than wages its about the kind of future our families will have,” said janitor Ed Washington.

The union says workers struggle to make ends meet on an income of $20,000 below the cost of living in Chicago.

“We hope Chicago’s major building owners live up to good business practices and support the good jobs with benefits that will help our economy grow,” Balanoff said.

The group cleans offices for Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, General Electric, CME Group, Boeing and Tishman Speyer.


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