Illinois

Chicago Janitors, Building Owners and Cleaning Companies Invest in Good Jobs and Help Grow Our Economy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2015

Janitors Approve Contract Agreement Benefiting Both their Families and Communities; Narrow Wage Gap between Downtown and the Suburbs

CHICAGO –By an overwhelming margin, Chicagoland SEIU Local 1 janitors approved a new union contract that preserves their ability to support their families and allows them access to health care. As part of this settlement with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and suburban contractors, nearly 10,000 janitors and their families won wage increases and protected fully employer-paid healthcare over the next three years. The janitors were also able to narrow the suburban- downtown wage gap.

“These economic gains will directly benefit our region’s economy for years to come, helping hardworking families build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Tom Balanoff, President of SEIU Local 1. “Local 1 is leading the way for all working people – when you stand up together and bargain collectively, we all win.”

The new three year janitors’ union contract, which goes into effect April 6th, guarantees:

  • Annual wage increases for janitors, which will allow them to build a better future by supporting their families in the midst of increasing cost of living in the Chicago area.
  • Protection of quality, family health insurance. The janitors plan provides comprehensive coverage for janitors and their families at half of the cost of the average family health plan in Illinois.
  • Stronger contract, which gives part time members stronger seniority rights.

Nearly 2,000 janitors are still working to get their contracts settled. Chicago Public Schools and other publicly funded facilities have traditionally followed these area standards set by BOMA and the Local 1 janitors, but there is no guarantee.

“We are celebrating great progress today, but we are just getting started,” said Paula Henriquez, a janitor with Chicago Public Schools. “Now we are calling on Cook County and the City of Chicago to adopt the wage and benefit standards for janitors at Chicago Public Schools, the airports, and all publicly funded facilities set by SEIU Local 1 janitors, business leaders and BOMA.”

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

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10,000 Chicagoland Janitors Win Raises, Protect Healthcare

RaiseAmerica Chicago VIdeo ScreenshotIn a historic settlement with Chicago’s Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and suburban contractors, nearly 10,000 janitors and their families won wage increases and protected fully employer-paid family healthcare over the next three years. This contract narrows the wage gap between downtown and suburban janitors—ensuring a better future for all of Chicagoland’s working families.

“These economic gains will directly benefit our region’s economy for years to come, helping hardworking families build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Tom Balanoff, President of SEIU Local 1. “SEIU Local 1 is leading the way for all working people – when workers stand up together and bargain collectively, we all win.”

SEIU Local 1 janitors came out in record numbers and stuck together with workers across the country to secure this victory. The fight for good jobs continues. Corporations like BMO Harris Bank continue to pay their contracted janitors poverty wages with no benefits. And more than 3,000 Chicago-area janitors are still working to get their contracts settled. Chicago Public Schools and other publicly funded facilities have traditionally followed these area standards set by BOMA and the SEIU Local 1 janitors, but there is no guarantee.

“We are celebrating great progress today, but we are just getting started,” said Paula Henriquez, a janitor with Chicago Public Schools. “Now we are calling on Cook County and the City of Chicago to adopt the wage and benefit standards for janitors at Chicago Public Schools, police stations, parks, and all publicly funded facilities set by SEIU Local 1 janitors, business leaders and BOMA.”

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BMO: Take Six Minutes of Profit to Raise America

Civil Disobedience web Toni Preckwinkle web Paula Henriquez Arrest webProtesting BMO’s poor treatment of its contract employees, which is deepening the divide between the richest 1% and the rest of working America, 20 SEIU Local 1 janitors and supporters risked arrest at BMO Harris Bank in downtown Chicago.

“The BMO janitors’ struggle is an example of what’s wrong with our economy. But this problem is solvable—there is a clear road map for what we need to change,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “Instead of driving workers deeper into poverty, our country needs good jobs that build working families up and raise standards for all workers.”

The janitors rallied with the support of faith leaders and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle outside of BMO Harris Bank to call on the wealthy corporation to do right by the hardworking janitors who clean their downtown Chicago and suburban offices by providing them with decent wages and benefits.

 

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BREAKING: Janitor Rally at BMO Headquarters for Good Jobs Prompts Act of Civil Disobedience as Janitors Block Financial District Intersection; 20 Arrested

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday April 2, 2015

CHICAGO – In an act of civil disobedience that harkens back to the civil rights movement, 20 SEIU Local 1 janitors and supporters risked arrest today at BMO Harris Bank to protest BMO’s poor treatment of its contract employees, which is deepening the divide between the richest 1% and the rest of working America. The janitors rallied with the support of faith leaders and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle outside of BMO Harris Bank to call on the wealthy corporation to do right by the hardworking janitors who clean their downtown Chicago and suburban offices by providing them with decent wages and benefits.

“The BMO janitors’ struggle is an example of what’s wrong with our economy. But this problem is solvable—there is a clear road map for what we need to change,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “Instead of driving workers deeper into poverty, our country needs good jobs that build working families up and raise standards for all workers.”

Janitors who clean BMO’s Naperville offices perform the same job as the union janitors at the headquarters in Chicago, but are paid significantly less and have no benefits. BMO Financial Group made $4.3 billion in profits in 2014. In fact, BMO makes enough profit every six minutes to raise all 10 Naperville janitors to $15 an hour with employer paid family health insurance for an entire year.

“On this Holy Day, when we recall Jesus celebrating Passover and washing the feet of his disciples, we know that those who serve us by keeping our surroundings clean and healthy, must also be honored for their dignity and worth,” said Rev. C.J. Hawking, Exec Director of Arise Chicago and one of those arrested. “These workers deserve a just contract, regardless of where they serve.”

Those arrested today include faith leaders as well as well as janitors who are bargaining for a new contract that expires in three days. Chicagoland union janitors are uniting with BMO janitors to help raise the floor for all working families.

Throughout our history as a nation, people of good will have courageously and nonviolently engaged in protest and civil disobedience to stand up for civil liberties—including the Boston Tea Party, Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad, and the fight for women to gain the right to vote.

 

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BACKGROUND: Contracts that impact the livelihood of 12,000 SEIU Local 1 members and their families expire on April 5, 2015. These janitors are joining more than 130,000 SEIU janitors in cities across the country—janitors from Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York—whose union contracts also expire in 2015 and 2016. Chicago is the first city in the country to negotiate.

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Janitors Rally at CPS for Good Jobs and Clean Schools

Ina Davis at CPS Presser 3.25.15SEIU Local 1 janitors who clean Chicago Public School (CPS) rallied at the CPS Board of Education meeting on March 25th as two custodians testified to the board. The custodians are calling on CPS to support good jobs with adequate staffing to ensure our city’s children have the clean schools they need to learn and excel.

The custodians are urging CPS to do right by the hardworking janitors who clean our city’s schools by providing them with decent wages and benefits and reinstating part-timed Aramark janitors to full-time work. Aramark, the cleaning contractor hired by CPS, laid off nearly 300 janitors who clean public schools in our city and cut  another 200 to part-time in October of last year.

“I have cleaned Chicago Public Schools for 19 years,” SEIU Local 1 member Ina Davis told reporters. “Every night I clean 23 classrooms, 17 bathrooms and 72,000 square feet of hallway. I am here to tell CPS: I want to clean your schools; you want your schools clean. Help me. I feel like I’m doing triple time.”

Despite working extremely hard, the current custodial workforce is not allowed enough hours to keep our schools clean. Chicago and its schools are safer, cleaner and more prosperous when their workers are fairly compensated and they have adequate staffing.

Contracts that impact the livelihood of 22,000 SEIU Local 1 members and their families are expiring on April 5, including hundreds who work at CPS.

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BMO is Putting Profits Over People

CHUY0031Chicago janitors, joined by Chicago Jobs with Justice and workers with the Fight for $15, formed a human chain down LaSalle Street in Chicago on March 25, 2015, to call on the wealthy BMO corporation to do right by the hardworking janitors who clean their offices by providing them with a living wage and benefits.

Janitors with EBM, Inc. who clean the BMO offices in Naperville perform the same job as the union janitors at the BMO headquarters in Chicago but are paid less than $15,000 a year and have no benefits.

BMO Financial Group made $4.3 billion in profits in 2014. In fact, every six minutes BMO makes enough money to raise the pay of all 10 Naperville janitors to $15 an hour and provide them with family health insurance for an entire year.

Chicagoland janitors, who clean the buildings and office space of the richest corporations in America, are rallying for a good contract with a wage increase that will keep their families out of poverty. The contract is negotiated only every three years and expires on April 5, 2015.

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SEIU Illinois State Council Endorses Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Mayor

Major Labor Union Representing More than 150,000 in Illinois Calls Garcia the Clear Choice for Working Families

CHICAGO – Leading the fight against income inequality, the SEIU Illinois State Council today announced its endorsement of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the 2015 Mayoral Election.

“This election presents a clear choice between Rahm Emanuel who turned his back on Chicago’s hard working families by eliminating or outsourcing good jobs to companies that slash wages and benefits and Jesus Chuy Garcia a long time progressive champion and ally of all workers,” said Tom Balanoff, SEIU Illinois State Council President. “SEIU is going to make sure that Chicago’s working families have a say in this election. We know we can’t match the tens of millions of dollars that Rahm’s billionaire friends are funneling into his campaign, but we can make sure that working families have a voice through Chuy Garcia’s campaign. We look forward to working with our friend Chuy Garcia to champion the needs of working families by restoring balance, reviving neighborhoods and building an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”

“Chuy Garcia is the candidate who will best represent the interests and values of working families in our great city,” said April Verrett SEIU HCII Executive Vice President. “His track record of doing so goes back to his stand with the late Mayor Harold Washington and has continued throughout his political career. Chicago is in need of clear direction that empowers working families, not one that continues to put the burden on the backs of families who are struggling to make ends meet as Rahm Emmanuel has done. In Chuy Garcia, we will have a mayor whose first concern will be in the interest of working families.”

“The clear choice for Chicago’s working families in the upcoming election is between a future with Chuy Garcia in which all of us have access to a quality standard of living, or one with Rahm Emanuel in which workers are taken advantage of by special interests and Rahm’s rich friends,” said Ewa Miklewicz, SEIU Local 1 Janitor. “While Rahm Emanuel’s buddies are thriving in our city, we are faced with tripled water fees and scammed by the red light and speed cameras Emanuel enforced. That’s why SEIU is proud to endorse Chuy Garcia, a man on our side who will fight for the working families of our city.”

Representing more than 150,000 workers, the SEIU Illinois Council rallies behind candidates who have demonstrated a strong record on issues important to all working families. The SEIU Illinois Council represents workers including home care and child care providers, security officers, janitors, as well as public employees, medical professionals, first responders and social service workers. SEIU members are winning better wages, health care, and more secure jobs, while ensuring that workers, not just corporations and CEOs, benefit from today’s economy.

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3,000 Chicagoland Janitors Join Telephone Town Hall

polish call 1
On February 11, more than 3,000 Chicagoland janitors joined a live phone conference to approve priority bargaining goals for our 2015 contract campaign. Making a pledge to be active in this campaign, Chicago janitors are ready to hit the streets to support their bargaining committee at the table. Together, we can win raises and better benefits, and help Raise America with good jobs. Si, se puede!

 

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Rauner reveals face he tried to hide from voters — the anti-union ideologue one

Chicago Sun Times

By: Mark Brown

http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/356874/rauner-takes-mask-fires-away

And so it begins.

Gov. Bruce Rauner fired his first shot Monday in his campaign to give all Illinois workers the right to choose to work for less money.

Rauner’s legally dubious executive order relieving state employees of the requirement they pay union dues was a loud declaration the new governor aims to restore Illinois to prosperity — by undercutting the organizing power of its work force.

The governor’s initial targeting of public employee unions was no surprise given his election rhetoric, but his use of an executive order to impose his willseemed to catch everyone off guard.

“I did not see him going this far,” admitted Tom Balanoff, president of SEIU Illinois Council, who said Rauner “knows this is not legal.”

It took AFSCME Council 31 more than an hour to come up with a response before calling Rauner’s move a “blatantly illegal abuse of power.”

I think a lot of people expected Rauner to move back to the middle after the election so he could govern as a pragmatic and moderate businessman. Now it’s becoming plain he’s an ideologue who could end up making noted union antagonist Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker look like the late-labor leader George Meany.

My first thought upon learning of Rauner’s move was of Fort Sumter and the cannon shot that signaled the beginning of the Civil War, not to suggest anything so momentous.

My second thought was of my grandfather, a railroad worker who was shot and wounded by company thugs who fired on a group of union pickets in the central Illinois railroad wars 69 years ago this month. Yes, I have a visceral reaction to this stuff.

I completely understand that Illinois voters were looking to make some changes when they elected Rauner as governor, and many of them would like to give the wealthy businessman an opportunity to try things his way for a while.

But in rejecting what they saw as failed Democratic rule, it’s hard to believe they were also buying into Rauner’s emerging concept of what it takes to make Illinois more competitive.

It does raise an interesting question: Are people gullible enough to think this is really about a worker’s right to choose whether they pay dues to a union, as Rauner claims?

Or can they see through the baloney to understand that Rauner’s idea of what would make Illinois workers more competitive with other states is lower wages and benefits.

What else does more competitive mean to Rauner? It sure doesn’t mean he wants our workers to run faster and jump higher.

I read last summer’s Supreme Court decision on which Rauner is hanging his hat, and it specifically did NOT overturn court precedents that make it legal to assess so-called “fair share fees to public employees who don’t want to join the union.

As I wrote at the time, it certainly looks as if some members of the court, possibly a majority, are itching for the opportunity to do just that. But for now, that’s not the state of the law, or the law of this state.

Nobody, though, should have been too surprised by Rauner’s move.

Even before the election, I told you about a speech he gave back in 2013 to the Wauconda Township Republican Club at which he foreshadowed his plans.

In response to a question, Rauner went off on one of his then common rants about “government union bosses and the trial lawyers,” an approach he tried to downplay during the general election campaign.

“They’ve got us by the throats and I’m going to do . . . ” Rauner said before interrupting himself.

“Some of this I’m not going to talk about publicly,” he confided. “This is probably going to go out on YouTube.”

Rauner went on to reveal just a little. He said he was going to use executive orders to “take on” government unions. But he didn’t want to talk about it just then given the possibility that everyone would see him on YouTube — for who he is.

It’s like I told you before: Rauner has big plans for Illinois, and he’d let us know all about them after the election.

I’m wondering what other secret plans Rauner has up his sleeve. I’m reminded of other speeches where he talked about spoiling for a possible strike from state workers — and replacing them a la Ronald Reagan and the air traffic controllers.

If private-sector union members are thinking this is the public employee unions’ problem, then they are going to be in for a rude awakening. The same goes for non-union workers who think this is a union problem.

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Rauner hires Dan Webb in move against ‘forced’ union dues; labor vows battle

Chicago Sun Times

By: Natasha Korecki

http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/356352/gov-bruce-rauner-hires-dan-webb-winston-strawn-bring-legal-action-forced-union-dues

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday waged war against government unions, signing an executive order blocking so called “fair share” union fees from state employee paychecks while announcing he was pursuing legal action to prevent public-sector unions from tapping the fees.

It was a move that Illinois labor immediately decried as “a blatantly illegal use of power” and a signal that Rauner was seeking leverage as he heads into contract negotiations with government unions.

Rauner, a Republican, said state employees who choose not to participate in unions still must pay fees through the “fair share” provision.

Rauner described moving on two fronts in blocking the automatic union fees. He signed an executive order declaring that those who want to opt out of joining a union are able to avoid paying union dues. It would not affect those who want to remain active, he said.

On the second front, Rauner tapped former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb and his powerhouse law firm Winston & Strawn to file what is called a “declaratory judgment action” in federal court to have the provision declared unconstitutional.

“Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers. Government union bargaining and government union political activity are inexorably linked,” Rauner said. “An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights — and something that, as governor, I am duty-bound to correct.”

AFSCME, however, cited the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, saying that fair share does not go toward political contributions. Instead, the statute says fair share covers: “proportionate share of the costs of the collective-bargaining process, contract administration, and pursuing matters affecting wages, hours and other conditions of employment.”

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall noted it does “not include any fees for contributions related to the election or support of any candidate for political office.”

Rauner cited Harris vs. Quinn, an Illinois Supreme Court case, saying home health care workers did not have to contribute automatically to union deductions, as precedent for his executive order and for future direction.

“We are also simultaneously filing what is known as a declaratory judgment action in the federal court asking ultimately that the [Illinois] Supreme Court declare that these fair share provisions are unconstitutional,” Rauner said. “Our all-star team of lawyers will be led by former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb and the lawyers at Winston & Strawn who will be part of the team representing the office of the governor.”

Webb and his law firm are working pro bono.

Organized labor in Illinois bristled at the announcement and promised legal action.

SEIU President Tom Balanoff told the Sun-Times Rauner’s actions were a smokescreen to really drive down working wages in Illinois.

“The order is not going to hold up. It’s not legal. Bruce Rauner knows this,” Balanoff said. He defended “fair share” as necessary and legal way to pay for services that unions provide to employees. Balanoff said fair share money goes toward collective-bargaining costs.
”I think it will undermine the ability to use the collective-bargaining process,” he said.

The state’s largest public employee union, AFSCME, vowed a legal fight.

“Bruce Rauner’s scheme to strip the rights of state workers and weaken their unions by executive order is a blatantly illegal abuse of power,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a statement. “Perhaps as a private equity CEO, Rauner was accustomed to ignoring legal and ethical standards, but Illinois is still a democracy and its laws have meaning.

“It is crystal clear by this action that the governor’s supposed concern for balancing the state budget is a paper-thin excuse that can’t hide his real agenda: Silencing working people and their unions who stand up for the middle class. Our union and all organized labor will stand together with those who believe in democracy to overturn Bruce Rauner’s illegal action and restore the integrity of the rule of law.”

The state’s teachers union also vowed to bring legal action.

“Our state has big financial problems, and the new governor’s ideological attacks on working families isn’t the way to solve them,” Illinois Federation of Teachers spokeswoman Aviva Bowen said. “Today’s executive order is an abuse of power and the democratic process, and we won’t stand for it. We are exploring all legal options at this point, and we fully intend to hold this governor accountable to the U.S. Constitution, Illinois law, and collective-bargaining agreements.”

Rauner has been at odds with unions since he launched his political campaign in 2013. The Winnetka venture capitalist repeatedly said “government union bosses” were what ailed Springfield, calling for an elimination of political donations from unions to politicians. Union groups spent tens of millions of dollars in an unsuccessful attempt to deny Rauner the governor’s seat in Illinois.

 

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