Window Washers, Children Dressed in Superhero Costumes to Rally at Millennium Park to Urge Corporate Services CEO to Invest in Chicago’s Communities
CHICAGO – SEIU Local 1 window washers, joined by their families, will continue their strike Tuesday at Millennium Park in superhero costumes. They will rally with their children and march downtown as part of their fight for a strong new contract that includes fair wages and benefits for the treacherous work they do.
Every year, Chicago’s window washers scale Lurie Children’s Hospital in superhero costumes to brighten the days of the children patients at the hospital. Now, they are fighting for the future of their kids.
As part of their job, Chicago window washers hang hundreds of feet in the air and put their lives on the line to clean iconic buildings like Trump Tower, the Willis Tower and 875 N. Michigan. But window washers are struggling to get by on low wages and a healthcare policy that forces many to rely on public assistance.
Our city’s window washers are on strike since Monday, July 2nd. They will not go back to work until their employers, like Corporate Cleaning Services, sit down at the table and bargain in good faith.
WHAT: Chicago window washers Superhero family rally with children, costumes,
WHEN: Tuesday, July 10 at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, 201 E. Randolph Street, Chicago.
WHO: Hundreds of SEIU Local 1 window washers, their children, community allies
VISUALS: Striking Window Washers in costume: Spiderman, Batman, Robin, Captain America and others. Children in superhero capes. Blown up posters of skyline views taken hundreds of feet in the air by window washers on the job. Window washers in uniform chanting, holding signs, rallying at Cloud Gate. Children chanting.
BACKGROUND: Window washing is an important and historic family industry in Chicago, yet many workers struggle to make ends meet on wages as low as $11 cleaning the skyscrapers of billion-dollar corporations. Window washers cannot afford employer-provided healthcare, with many of their families forced to rely on public assistance just to have health coverage.
While billion-dollar buildings like Trump Tower enjoy massive tax breaks, the window washers who scale them are barely making ends meet. Meanwhile, in other markets like New York, window washers start at $21 and enjoy employer-provided healthcare, giving them the ability to support their families and communities. Chicago window washers deserve the same opportunity.
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Resolution comes as janitors prepare to hit the bargaining table tomorrow, June 20
DETROIT – Detroit City Council President Pro Tempore Mary Sheffield announced that the Council unanimously passed a resolution aimed at raising the pay for downtown janitors to at least $15 per hour. The resolution passed the day before SEIU Local 1 janitors hit the bargaining table to fight for the raises and strong new contract they need to support their families and their communities.
The resolution is a clear message that Detroit’s elected city leaders, who approve downtown tax abatements and incentives, support downtown developers placing these workers on a path to at least $15 an hour, a wage that allows them to better support their families.
Currently, downtown janitors earn as low as $9.25 to $12.45 per hour, making them eligible for government assistance despite working long weeks. As a result, in part, Detroit doubles the national average in unemployment and is first amongst the top 20 big cities in terms of poverty.
“There comes a time as elected officials that we stop simply reciting these statistics and do something to change the narrative,” said Sheffield, who sponsored the resolution. “We have seen tremendous growth in our downtown, and today, by passing this resolution, this body is saying that those who clean and protect our growth shouldn’t be left behind.”
Downtown janitors hailed the council’s support for the campaign to pay janitors a minimum of $15 per hour.
“Local 1 janitors look forward to working with the Detroit City Council to raise wages to at least $15 and to guarantee union rights for all of our city’s working people,” said Daniel Bell, a member of SEIU Local 1 and janitor at Chase Tower. “We all need the opportunity to share in the prosperity from Detroit’s ‘rebirth,’ not just the wealthy owners. Making sure all Detroiters make at least $15 per hour and have union rights is a good start. These developments are built with our tax dollars – $15 per hour and union rights is the least they could do in return.”
Today, commercial real estate in Detroit’s downtown is valued at anywhere from $21 to $26 per square foot. Putting things in perspective, the Detroit City Council and the Wayne County Commission have approved more than $1 billion in tax incentives to help developers build and renovate downtown office buildings and entertainment venues in recent years.
Last week, janitors kicked off the One Detroit campaign to make sure all working people benefit from the city’s redevelopment. In addition to urging downtown building owners to ensure that janitors and security officers are paid decent wages, the One Detroit campaign asserts all workers’ right to affiliate with unions to negotiate wages – free from employer interference.
“We commend Mary Sheffield and the entire Detroit City Council for making such a clear statement about our janitors,” said Stephanie Arellano, Detroit City Director of the Service Employees International Union Local 1. “Local 1 janitors are proud of the work they do, and they deserve better for their families.”
Service Employees International Union Local 1 unites 50,000 workers throughout the Midwest, including janitors, security officers, higher education faculty, food service workers and others. Local 1 is committed to improving the lives of its members and all working people by winning real economic justice and standing at the forefront of the fight for immigrant, racial and environmental justice.
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.
ST. LOUIS: The following is a statement from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 St. Louis Lambert Janitor Lasean Smith in response to the St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment vote today against awarding a $13.5 million contract to irresponsible contractor ATALIAN Global Services and its local affiliate, Centaur Building Services:
“By coming together and speaking out for good jobs and standards at our airport, Local 1 St. Louis Lambert janitors won a big victory today.
“We are glad that our elected leaders agree: A company that has a history of racial discrimination has no place at a world-class airport like St. Louis Lambert.
“The janitors of St. Louis Lambert urge the Airport Commission to pick a responsible cleaning contractor who will ensure working people have a voice on the job. Doing so will make sure our airport is an economic engine for our entire city.”
BACKGROUND: Last month, the Riverfront Times outlined how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found “reasonable cause to believe” ATALIAN affiliate Centaur Building Services violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act after discharging an employee, an African-American woman, due to her race. Despite this, on May 3, the St. Louis Lambert Airport Commission voted to award the contract to the company.
Service Employees International Union Local 1 unites 50,000 workers throughout the Midwest including nearly 10,000 commercial janitors, higher education faculty, food service workers, state workers in the Division of Probation and Parole, school custodians, patient care professionals, and more in Missouri. Local 1 is committed to improving the lives of its members and all working people by winning real economic justice and standing at the forefront of the fight for immigrant, racial and environmental justice.
Victory shows Missouri working families reject GOP’s anti-worker agenda
KANSAS CITY – The following is a statement from SEIU Missouri State Council Treasurer Lenny Jones regarding Rep. Lauren Arthur’s decisive victory in today’s special election for Missouri Senate District 17:
“After a hard-fought campaign, the SEIU Missouri State Council congratulates Senator-elect Lauren Arthur on her special election victory today. The janitors, school custodians, higher education faculty, state workers, patient care professionals and more of SEIU look forward to working with Senator-elect Arthur to make Missouri a better state for all working families.
“Senator-elect Arthur’s victory shows that the Missouri GOP’s electoral problems go far beyond disgraced ex-governor Eric Greitens. Our state’s working families reject the party’s radical anti-worker agenda.
“Working people are bringing their frustration to the ballot box and are ready to put Missouri back on track towards a brighter future. That starts with repealing the state’s harmful ‘right-to-work’ law on August 7.”