Hundreds of Chicago Window Washers Vote Overwhelmingly to Strike

Potential strike could occur anytime after June 30

CHICAGO – SEIU Local 1 window washers, joined by Chicago Latino Caucus Chairman Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) outside Trump Tower, announced Monday afternoon they have voted overwhelmingly to strike, if necessary. A strike could occur anytime after their current collective bargaining agreement expires on June 30.

“Any strike we have would disrupt the industry for the entire season,” said Cruz Guzman, a Chicago window washer with Service One. “We’re ready to do whatever it takes to help support our families, even go on strike. Because too many of us are barely making ends meet. We’re asking our employers: come to the table and offer us a fair wage for the dangerous work we do. And we’re asking the people of Chicago to support us.”

Every day, Chicago window washers hang hundreds of feet in the air and put their lives on the line to clean iconic buildings like Trump Tower, the Willis Tower and 875 N. Michigan but are struggling on low wages and a healthcare policy that forces many to rely on public assistance.

“The working people who do some of the most dangerous work in our city should not struggle to make ends meet. Their families should not be forced to rely on public assistance for healthcare,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “That’s why window washers are demanding a fair raise and a better healthcare plan to help them support their families and communities.”

Window washing is an important and historic family industry in Chicago, yet many workers struggle to make ends meet on wages as low as $11 cleaning the skyscrapers of billion-dollar corporations. Window washers cannot afford employer-provided healthcare, with many of their families forced to rely on public assistance just to have health coverage.

While billion-dollar buildings like Trump Tower enjoy massive tax breaks, the window washers who scale them are barely making ends meet. Meanwhile, in other markets like New York, window washers start at $21 and enjoy employer-provided healthcare, giving them the ability to support their families and communities. Chicago window washers deserve the same opportunity.

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