—Janitors who are about to lose their jobs at City buildings held a press conference outside City Council Chambers before the Council meeting this morning. The janitors called on policymakers to preserve and create good jobs in Chicago. Among the speakers at the press conference were Chicago janitors who are losing the jobs and the health care their families depend on when the City replaces their employer with a new cleaning contractor, Dayspring Inc.
“This isn’t right,” says Shirley McCondichie, who has been a janitor in Chicago for 18 years. “If I was hired by the new contractor, I would get more than three dollars cut from my hourly wage. I wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance, and I would no longer have a pension, paid holidays and other benefits. I wouldn’t even be guaranteed full time work. I’ve never had to resort to unemployment benefits, but now I will. I was going to help my daughter pay for college this fall, but now I don’t know how I can do that.”
The City is poised to replace the janitors’ current employer with cleaning contractor Dayspring by July 1. As a result, 50 Chicago janitors will lose their jobs – many after more than a decade of employment cleaning city buildings. Dayspring has a history that includes allegations of violating workers’ rights, and apparently not honoring its contracts. Yet Dayspring managed to be awarded the contract by the City over more responsible cleaning companies.
“Letting these workers – and the ones that will replace them – turn to public aid for health care, housing and food assistance is bad public policy,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “We are here today to urge the City Council to pass the Responsible Bidders Ordinance. We need to make sure the City hires only responsible contractors and protects good jobs for working families in Chicago.”
Chicago janitors and their allies have been lobbying to pass the Responsible Bidder Ordinance, which would allow the City to consider criteria other than cost alone in choosing a contractor; under this ordinance, the City would be able to award contracts to companies that provide good jobs and quality services. The current contracting system incentivizes cutting corners and creating poverty-wage jobs, and puts responsible contractors at a competitive disadvantage. The Responsible Bidder Ordinance is sponsored by 31 aldermen.
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.