DETROIT –Hundreds of Detroiters – including city and county elected officials, community and labor leaders and working people – gathered for a rally in front of the Spirit of Detroit and marched through downtown today, urging downtown building owners to ensure that building managers raise janitors’ pay to at least $15 an hour. They also urged building owners ensure contracted workers are able to come together to join unions and negotiate better wages without interference from their employer.
While downtown is booming, the janitors who keep buildings safe and clean every day are forced to raise their families on wages as low as $9.25. A strong new contract would help guarantee the janitors who keep Detroit running every day can support their families and their communities. While the fight starts with Detroit janitors, it will not stop until all workers across the city of Detroit, including airport, arena, fast food, and others, are sharing in and experiencing the real benefits from the resurgence of Detroit.
“I see the billions of dollars, and the millions of taxpayer dollars, going to new condos, hotels and restaurants. But just 15 blocks out of downtown, our neighborhoods are full of boarded-up houses, empty storefronts and hundreds of empty lots.” said SEIU Local 1 Janitor Pam Owens. “We are leading the fight for One Detroit where every working family can make ends meet with at least $15 an hour and a union.”
Organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, speakers at the rally called for “One Detroit,” a city that ensures janitors who clean downtown’s newest commercial office space as well as all working people share in the city’s newfound prosperity and resurgence.
“We, as elected leaders can easily recite the dubious stats about Detroit doubling the national average in unemployment and leading the nation in poverty, but we must actually do something to change the narrative,” said Detroit Council President Brenda Jones. “The Detroit City Council and Wayne County Commission have been very generous in approving $1 billion in tax incentives for new projects, and we believe downtown business owners should want to ensure those who pay the taxes that partially fund their projects should be able to raise their families.”
Wayne County Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman expects to introduce a resolution similar to the one recently adopted by the Detroit City Council, supporting wages and collective bargaining efforts.
“We believe it is our responsibility to consider the needs of our citizens in every decision to offer tax incentives for any new development projects,” said County Commissioner Clark-Coleman.