SEIU Local 1 Janitors Launch Inspiring ‘One Columbus’ Campaign to Fight for Better Pay and Dignity on the Job
Janitors kick off campaign to secure path to $15 hourly wage, union rights for all working people in Columbus
COLUMBUS – Joined by City of Columbus Councilmember Liz Brown and dozens of labor and community allies from across Ohio, SEIU Local 1 janitors rallied Monday afternoon in the Nationwide Arena District to launch their fight for a strong new contract with a path to $15 and better benefits.
“Janitors like me work hard—day in and day out—keeping Columbus clean and running smoothly. Our skilled labor helps contribute to our city’s prosperity, yet many of us can barely afford our groceries or to go to the doctor when we are sick,” said downtown Columbus janitor Cristal Sylla, who has cleaned the 325 John McConnell Boulevard office building for the past four years. “Janitors simply want a fair shot at a good future for our families and our communities. That’s why we’re fighting for good jobs, a strong new contract and a brighter Columbus for all—whether you are Black, white or brown.”
While downtown Columbus is booming with new development worth billions of dollars, the 750 local janitors who do dignified and skilled work to ensure our city runs smoothly are forced to raise their families on wages as low as $11.50. That equals an annual salary of about $23,920, which qualifies a full-time janitor for public assistance for housing, food and healthcare.
“Columbus janitorial workers provide essential services – doing difficult, often thankless, and indispensable work that keeps many downtown buildings clean and safe. Janitors deserve a contract that helps them support themselves and their families, not only because it’s good for them but because it’s good for Columbus. When workers earn the living wages and good benefits that reflect the dignity of their work, it makes all our families stronger.” said Columbus Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, who supports a path to $15.
Many Columbus janitors—who clean offices of major corporations like Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Huntington Bancshares, American Electric Power (AEP) and JP Morgan Chase—even work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet.
A strong new contract would help guarantee that Columbus janitors can better support their families and communities. While the fight starts with Columbus janitors, it will not stop until all working people across the city, including security officers and other underpaid workers, are sharing in and experiencing the real benefits from the city’s resurgence.
Janitors and their community and labor allies, including from the Columbus Education Association among other organizations, are fighting for “One Columbus.” Because it’s time Columbus worked for all of us—whether Black, white or brown—and not just a certain wealthy few.