COLUMBUS, Ohio –
One day after their last strike, negotiations broke down between hundreds of Columbus janitors and the company that employs them.
The janitors are taking to the streets again Tuesday night, in hopes that a second protest sends a stronger message that they want their hours and healthcare benefits to remain.
Dozens of Columbus janitors, representing more than 1,000 of their peers, are striking in front of Fifth Third Bank in downtown Columbus.
The janitors said they are being paid $18,000 a year, and can’t afford to have their full-time status or benefits cut.
They said New York-based ABM, a multi-million dollar national corporation, wants to cut them to part-time status.
Claude Smith is a 66-year-old veteran, who said that after eight years of scrubbing the lobby and picking up trash on 22 floors of the Fifth Third building, he deserves better.
Smith said his union has been fighting ABM for decent wages and affordable healthcare for about a year.
Tim Reilly, lead negotiator for the Columbus Area Service Contractors Association released the following statement Tuesday:
“The Columbus Area Service Contractors Association is fully committed to reaching an agreement in the mutual best interest of all parties, including employees, customers and contract cleaning companies alike.
“Over the last two years of the collective bargaining agreement, many of our employees have received wage increases totaling over 18 percent, as well as paid vacation and holiday time and other benefits. The union’s latest proposal failed to recognize these prior substantial increases received by employees. We recognize that, in these economic times, customers need to manage costs very carefully.
“We will continue to work hard at the bargaining table to achieve a successful resolution and remain convinced that such a resolution is possible.”
The janitors said they plan to take their strike inside the building Wednesday.