Janitors and Faith Community Hold Prayer Vigil at City Hall… On the Day the Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Reform, Chicago Janitors Lose Their Health Insurance and Income

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

Chicago— Today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding health care reform won’t help 50 janitors who will lose their jobs and health insurance tomorrow. Because the City awarded their cleaning contract to an irresponsible company, these janitors will have to face health issues and medical bills with no job and no insurance. On behalf of its members, SEIU Local 1 intends to file a lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order against Dayspring today in to attempt to stop Dayspring from taking over this work on Monday.

Chanting, “City Council, don’t you care? Tomorrow we lose our health care!” the janitors made a final plea with the City to reinstate them. The laid off janitors were joined by faith and community supporters at a prayer vigil outside City Hall today. The janitors and their supporters are also working to pass the Responsible Bidders Ordinance to protect thousands of Chicago workers from the same fate.

“I just found out that I have an ovarian tumor. I have to go to the doctor in August to find out when they are going to schedule the surgery. I cannot lose my health insurance,” said Catalina Bojorquez, a janitor who has worked at the 63rd Street Police Station for three years. Catalina helps support her daughter and two small grandchildren; she will lose her job and her health insurance tomorrow.

The City replaced the janitors’ current employer with cleaning contractor Dayspring, a company with a history that includes allegations of violating workers’ rights, and apparently not honoring its contracts. The City awarded the contract to Dayspring over more responsible cleaning companies. Day Spring will replace these 50 janitors with workers who will earn less money and who will not have affordable health insurance or other benefits.

Losing these jobs will cause severe hardship for 50 families in Chicago and hundreds more if the current bidding process continues. The janitors and their allies have been lobbying to pass the Responsible Bidder Ordinance, which would ensure that the City award contracts to companies that provide good jobs and quality services. The Responsible Bidder Ordinance is sponsored by 31 aldermen.

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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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