Cleveland Janitors Rally for $15, Shine Light on Stark Contrast Between Downtown and Their Communities

Joined by Hundreds of Supporters From Across the Country…

Cleveland Janitors Rally for $15 Under the Playhouse Square Chandelier, Shine Light on Stark Contrast Between Downtown and Their Communities

CLEVELAND – SEIU Local 1 janitors, who keep Cleveland’s most prominent buildings clean and are amid contract bargaining, rallied for $15 this afternoon under the iconic Playhouse Square chandelier to highlight how downtown’s boom has left too many neighborhoods behind. Union janitors, security officers and other supporters from Cincinnati, Columbus, Chicago, Detroit, Huston, New York and Portland rallied with Cleveland janitors in solidarity.

“In Cuyahoga County, the poverty rate for a family of four is about $25,000 a year. That’s more than what most janitors currently make,” said Local 1 janitor Craig Watson, who works at the Key Tower skyscraper. “We’re working to put food on the table and provide for our children. We need at least $15 an hour to better support our families.”

Today’s rally came on the heels of the janitor-led “Tale of Two Clevelands” trolley tour, during which Cleveland janitors drew attention to the neglect their neighborhoods have faced during downtown’s redevelopment. Today, janitors brought their fight for $15 directly to the epicenter of Cleveland’s booming resurgence.

Janitors play an essential role in keeping Cleveland clean and safe. Their contribution to our city’s renaissance is clear to anyone walking through downtown—Geis Companies, The K&D Group, Bedrock or AmTrust Financial. Our city’s janitors, however, experience another side of Cleveland. In the shadow of our city’s revival, there is another story where the mostly minority working poor, their families and their communities are struggling to get by.

Local 1 Cleveland janitors are in the process of negotiating their next union contract, which covers much of downtown’s commercial real estate community. Contract negotiations will resume next week, during which janitors will continue to press for a clear path to $15 an hour.

In addition to fighting for fair pay, Cleveland janitors hope to pave the foundation for One Cleveland—a truly prosperous city where everybody thrives.

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