Janitors, Elected Officials & Community Supporters Rally, Join National Call for Good Jobs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2013

Contact:  Ivan Moreno | morenoi@seiu1.org | 773.799.6455

With contract talks for hundreds of Milwaukee-area janitors to begin tomorrow…

Janitors, Elected Officials & Community Supporters Rally, Join National Call for Good Jobs

 Milwaukee – SEIU Local 1 janitors rallied today with the support of local leaders like Alderman Tony Zielinski to kick off contract negotiations between hundreds of Milwaukee janitors and some of the largest janitorial contractors in the country. Janitors are joining a growing movement in the nation’s low wage workforce that is calling on the country’s richest corporations to create good jobs that can sustain local communities.

“We can actually do something about poverty in Milwaukee by fighting for good jobs,” said Jeryllyn Jeanes, a Milwaukee janitor and 19-year union member. “This is about respect and receiving fair wages for the hard work that we do every day.”

Union janitors with SEIU Local 1 are proposing a fair wage increase and maintained access to affordable health care. When low wage workers like Milwaukee’s janitors are forced to rely on publicly funded programs, taxpayers are essentially subsidizing the profits of corporations like BMO Harris and the janitorial contractors that they hire.

“Milwaukee janitors are uniting to create good jobs that move our city forward,” said Alderman Tony Zielinski. “We do our part to make Milwaukee strong. Now we call on Milwaukee’s employers to do their part and help create a city that is prosperous for all of us.”

Janitors rallied in front of BMO Harris Bank, a corporation that made $4.1 billion last year alone, but whose janitors, employed by CleanPower, are paid poverty wages with no benefits. In fact, according to the state of Wisconsin, more than 300 of CleanPower’ s Wisconsin employees and more than 500 of their children already rely on public benefits to obtain health care.

Many Milwaukee janitors qualify for and depend on a host of public assistance programs to make ends meet. With the fourth highest poverty rate of any major city in the nation and a high rate of racial income disparity, janitors see a fair contract as a direct way to address Milwaukee’s growing wealth inequality. The current agreement covers more than 400 Milwaukee janitors and expires on December 31, 2013. Talks to negotiate a new agreement are set to start tomorrow, November 20.

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 SEIU Local 1 unites 50,000 property service workers in the central United States, including janitors, security officers, and food service workers.  Together we work to build strength for all working people, on the job and in our communities.

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