On January 31st, hundreds of SEIU Local 1 member leaders from across the Midwest gathered in Chicago to make a plan to win better wages and benefits for their families, and to ultimately raise America with good jobs.
Contracts expire on April 5, 2015 for nearly 12,000 janitors in Chicago including Chicago Public School custodians and other city and county buildings along with janitors working in office buildings in downtown Chicago and across Chicagoland. Similar janitorial contracts are expiring for approximately 130,000 janitors around the country throughout 2015 and 2016; Chicago is the first city to negotiate.
Chicago’s janitors work hard to keep our offices, our schools and our city clean and healthy. They clean the equivalent of nearly 33,000 miles of office space every night, vacuuming our floors, emptying our trash, and sanitizing our bathrooms. They clean build ings of major corporations—such as JP Morgan Chase, McDonald’s, AT&T, Kraft, CME Group, United and Boeing—and public facilities like Chicago Public Schools and city, county and federal buildings.
CEOs of Chicago’s largest public corporations brought in more than $650 million in 2013. It would take a janitor in downtown Chicago more than 200 years to make what one CEO is paid in a single year. Those corporations raked in $678 billion in revenue, but as many as two thirds of all Illinois corporations are not paying any state corporate income taxes. These corporations are using their power to get millions in tax deals from the city and state.
We know that rich corporations can afford to support good jobs that boost our economy, lift our communities, and pave a better future for Chicago and the Midwest. That’s why we’re taking action to win better jobs for janitors and all workers. Raising pay will put money into the hands of working moms and dads so they can put more money back into our communities and help create more good jobs.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2015
Julia P. Valentine, firstname.lastname@example.org
CHICAGO – SEIU Local 1 janitors held a rally on Thursday, January 15, to celebrate the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and announce the start of the Chicago janitorial contract campaign. Chicago janitors are fighting to realize Dr. King’s dream of good jobs that lift communities out of poverty fifty years after his tragic death.
Contracts expire on April 5, 2015 for nearly 12,000 janitors in Chicago including Chicago Public School custodians and other city and county buildings along with janitors working in office buildings in downtown Chicago and across Chicagoland. Similar janitorial contracts are expiring for approximately 200,000 janitors around the country throughout 2015 and 2016; Chicago is the first city to negotiate.
SEIU Local 1 Secretary-Treasurer Laura Garza told the crowd, “Dr. King called the labor movement ‘the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.’ Today, on his birthday, we are still fighting: for fair wages and benefits and a way to provide for our families.” She continued, “While the recovery has been good to the very wealthy, it has not touched our wages and benefits. We want that to change with these contract negotiations. Our economy should lift all workers, not just those at the top.”
SEIU Local 1 members testified to their fellow members about the importance of raising Chicago – and America – with good jobs. “Workers today are struggling despite working hard every day. We believe that if you work hard, you should be able to support your family and have a good life,” said Urszula Przybys, a janitor who has been working for eighteen years at the NBC Tower in downtown Chicago. She was echoed by CPS custodians Lamont Christmas and Salud Gonzales.
GET THE FACTS ON CHICAGO JANITORS:
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Service Employees International Union Local 1 unites nearly 50,000 workers throughout the Midwest. SEIU janitors, security officers, food service workers, and others are working with community leaders to advocate for the quality services the public deserves and the good jobs our communities need.
Unions help working families fulfill their dreams in many ways. At SEIU Local 1, this includes yearly college scholarship opportunities. These scholarships enable SEIU Local 1 members and their children to pursue their education goals at colleges, universities, labor study programs and technical schools.
Make sure to research the following opportunities for SEIU Local 1 members and your children – the deadlines for applications are coming up!
Today, the grand jury’s decision deepens those wounds and amplifies even more the disproportionate and disparate injustices experienced by communities of color.
“For months, families across our nation have experienced collective grief and outrage over the taking of Michael Brown’s life and the resulting turmoil that has upended the community in Ferguson, Missouri. Today, the grand jury’s decision deepens those wounds and amplifies even more the disproportionate and disparate injustices experienced by communities of color. These injustices reverberate through all communities and take our nation another step away from a fair and just society.
Our disappointment in today’s decision does not extinguish the hope in our hearts for a better America for all our children regardless of where they were born or in which zip code they live.
Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. All lives matter. The dream of America can never be fully realized until justice and safety prevail in every community across our country. The Department of Justice must prioritize the investigation into the murder of Michael Brown.
SEIU members stand with our brothers and sisters in Ferguson and across the nation in expressing our grief and frustration. We join them in calling for something better for all neighborhoods and communities and joining together in peaceful demonstrations at federal courthouses across the country.
More information can be found here (http://nationalactionnetwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/HANDS-UP-JUSTICE-RALLY-FLIER-11-21.pdf). We encourage all involved law enforcement to honor the rules and the rights of people to protest and speak out.
We will not rest in these efforts until America is a more just society where every human being is respected and every community has equal opportunity to thrive.
For Immediate Release: November 24, 2014
Media Contact: Beau Boughamer; email@example.com; 202/765-9143
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2014
CHICAGO— Today, Friday, November 21, school custodians and their supporters from area school districts, including Rockford, Elgin and Wheaton, rallied to protest school board inaction at the annual conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago.
“Thanksgiving should be a happy time, not a time to worry about a smaller paycheck,” said Shana Spearman, a custodian in the Rockford Public Schools District 205. “Working full-time without a single paid sick day or holiday isn’t right. We are just asking to be treated fairly.”
Custodians like Ms. Spearman have addressed their school boards at recent public meetings as well as sent letters to request support for better pay and basic benefits like paid holidays and sick days. They have reminded the school boards that it is within the boards’ power to dictate wage and benefit standards to the cleaning contractors they hire. Yet none have taken any action to support the men and women who keep their schools clean and their students and staff safe from illness.
“There is still time for these school districts to do the right thing for the men and women who keep their schools sanitary, some of whom have been on the job for ten years or more,” said Lonnell Saffold, a director with SEIU Local 1. “At a time when infectious disease outbreaks in schools are rampant, supporting paid sick time is not only an issue of respect, it is a serious safety issue.”
School boards have the authority to set standards for wages and benefits in their contracts and dictate these terms to the contractors they hire. The national trend of outsourcing janitorial work in public schools should not result in a race to the bottom. Instead of inflicting poverty jobs on workers and their families, public school districts should be providing good jobs that build strong communities.
SEIU Local 1 unites nearly 50,000 workers across six Midwestern states who are building an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.
www.seiu1.org | @SEIULocal1 | www.Facebook.com/SEIULocal1
CHICAGO — School District U46’s night custodians, hoping to get higher pay and some paid days off from the private contractor who employs them, are continuing to apply pressure against the U46 school board.
As the Illinois Association of School Boards held its annual meeting in a Chicago hotel Friday, about five of the U46 workers joined about 30 custodians from the Service Employees International Union who work for school districts in Wheaton and Rockford. They held signs with messages such as “U46 teachers got raises. What about me?”
The 172 night custodians work for GCA Service Group of Knoxville, Tenn. Their contract expired in June and they finally agreed to a one-year extension that gave them no pay raise and no insurance or paid days off. Several members have spoken to the U46 Board of Education in recent weeks, asking board members to apply pressure on GCA to give them a better deal.
Hugo Barrientos, who works at Kimball Middle School, said he was on the picket line Friday.
“We haven’t had a raise in four years, and that raise was 10 cents an hour,” Barrientos said. “I was making $10.70 before that and now for four years I have been making $10.80. Last week I was so sick, I had to call my supervisor and say I couldn’t make it to work that day. I lost one day’s pay because we get no paid sick days.”
“Thanksgiving should be a happy time, not a time to worry about a smaller paycheck,” said Shana Spearman, a custodian in Rockford Public Schools District 205 who also was on the picket line. “Working full-time without a single paid sick day or holiday isn’t right.”
Lonnell Saffold, a director with SEIU Local 1, said it is within the school boards’ power to dictate wage and benefit standards to the cleaning contractors they hire.
“There is still time for you to ensure that the men and women who keep your schools clean and healthy—many of whom are parents of U46 children—are treated fairly,” Saffold wrote in a letter to U46 board members last week. “At a time when infectious disease outbreaks in schools are rampant, supporting paid sick time is not only an issue of respect, it is a serious safety issue.”
“The national trend of outsourcing janitorial work in public schools should not result in a race to the bottom,” Saffold said. “Instead of inflicting poverty jobs on workers and their families, public school districts should be providing good jobs that build strong communities.”
But during a U46 board meeting last month, most board members and district officials seemed reluctant to intervene in the dispute. Chief Operating Officer Jeff King said the district rehired GCA to do the work under a new contract just last spring, and that contract lasts through 2019.
King said the contract specifies that the company must pay at least a certain minimum wage to its workers, based on four levels of duties and experience, but requires no benefits.
“We don’t get involved in negotiations between a contractor and its employees,” King said in answer to questions that night from board member Veronica Noland. He said it’s up to a contractor like GCA to say, “This is what we pay,” and in letting such a contract, the school district usually is obligated to pick the lowest bidder.
Noland said at that meeting that she wonders why the district can’t just use its own employees.
“There are cost efficiencies involved,” King said.
***Advisory for Friday, November 21***
CHICAGO— On Friday, November 21 at 10:30 a.m. school custodians and their supporters from areas including Rockford, Elgin and Wheaton will rally to protest school board inaction at the annual conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago (151 E Upper Wacker Drive).
WHAT: School Custodians Protest No Holiday/Sick Pay, Low Wages at Illinois Association of School Boards Annual Conference
WHEN: Friday, November 21, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Hyatt Regency Chicago – 151 E Upper Wacker Dr.
WHO: SEIU Local 1 school custodians from Rockford, Elgin and Wheaton and their supporters
The custodians have been reaching out to their school districts’ boards of education, and testifying at their meetings to request support for better pay and basic benefits like paid holidays and sick days. The boards can dictate wage and benefit standards to the cleaning contractors they hire yet so far, none have taken any action to support the men and women who keep their schools clean and sanitized and their students and staff safe from illness. SEIU Local 1 unites nearly 50,000 workers across six Midwestern states who are building an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.
More than 6,000 SEIU Local 1 security officers and their families will have more money in their pockets this holiday season. Local 1 security officers who work in buildings across the Chicagoland area unanimously ratified a new union contract on Saturday, November 8, 2014. They won raises of 25 cents an hour, improvements to their paid time off and a 67 percent reduction in employee healthcare contribution, dropping it from $300 down to $100. This victory enables more than 3,000 officers to get coverage who previously couldn’t afford it.
“Saving $200 a month in healthcare costs in addition to my raise will allow me to better care for me and my family,” said Kenyatta Sinclair, a security officer at the University of Chicago. “This is what can happen when working people unite together.”
By Corina Curry
Rockford Register Star | October 29. 2014
“You should use the taxpayers’ money to bring good jobs to the city,” said Carolina Villalobos, an organizer with Service Employees International Union, which represents the employees. “We’re here to ask for your help.”
Most of the district’s custodians work for $11 an hour, SEIU officials said. While they no longer are district employees — their work was outsourced in 2005 — small groups of school janitors have been attending board meetings in recent months, asking for the district’s support as they attempt to negotiate a new one-year contract with their employer, GCA Services Group.
The people who mop floors and empty garbage cans at the district’s 47 schools work full-time without health insurance, paid holidays or paid sick time. The group is asking for a 3 percent raise and benefits from GCA but has been unsuccessful. The current contract expires Friday.
The group is frustrated, members said, because the district has spent millions of dollars on facilities upgrades and building improvements in recent years, but when they ask for better working conditions to care for the buildings, they are told there are no funds.
Before 2005, Rockford’s public school custodians were district employees. The district put the contract out to bid that year. The employees unionized as SEIU Local 1 about eight years ago.
The district signed a three-year contract with GCA in May.