Read the new report from SEIU on the future of Columbus, Ohio: Columbus at a Crossroads
Low-wage, no benefit service jobs are replacing the good jobs of the past. Poverty wage jobs like these hurt our whole city. Columbus can do better. Service workers are uniting to restore the middle class, bring good jobs to our city, and raise wages for all working people. The business leaders in our city need to decide which direction our city will go.
*** Advisory for Wednesday, August 28th, 2013***
Contact: Amanda Hart, firstname.lastname@example.org or 832-969-6956
House Democratic Leader Tracy Heard Hosts Strike Food Drive for Poverty Stricken Janitors
COLUMBUS—State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard (D) is fighting poverty in Columbus by standing with janitors poised to strike. Heard will host a food drive launched at a press conference in support of Columbus janitors who plan to strike for their right to fight for good jobs. While the janitors were working to improve wages and benefits, employers responded with threats and intimidation, forcing janitors to call a strike. The food drive will be held throughout downtown Columbus with donation bins placed outside the downtown buildings where janitors work.
Downtown janitors clean the offices of some of the most profitable corporations in Columbus—such as Nationwide Insurance, Huntington Bank, AEP Energy, and Fifth Third Bank—but are paid about $18,000 on average. Although Columbus’s job growth remains strong, the poverty rate in our city has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. As economic mobility in Columbus becomes progressively unachievable, janitors are pulling together to fight for a path out of the cycle of poverty.
What: Rep. Tracy Heard announces strike food drive for Columbus janitors at a press conference followed by rally
Where: Intersection of High and State, Columbus
When: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Visuals: Dozens of janitors and supporters, banners, and handmade signs. Volunteers behind tables with decorated boxes and signs with piles of canned goods and other non-perishables.
On Friday afternoon, janitors and community supporters held a rally outside the Columbus corporate offices of Fifth Third Bank to announce plans for the first janitorial strike in the city’s history.
Contract talks broke down on Wednesday between representatives of the janitors’ union and the companies who contract with Fifth Third Bank, Nationwide Insurance, JP Morgan Chase, Huntington Bank, and AEP Energy to clean their office buildings downtown. ABM Industries provides cleaning services for the Fifth Third Bank building.
“The offer that janitors made on Wednesday would have protected full time hours and access to affordable health care, and guaranteed modest wage increases that would have set hundreds of working families on a path out of poverty,” said Tyler French, regional coordinator for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1.
Some of Columbus’ most profitable corporations contract out cleaning services to companies that pay janitors $18,200 a year on average, said Ivan Moreno of SEIU Local 1. “Janitors are paid so little that they qualify for food stamps and other public assistance programs,” he said. “Low wage jobs like these are contributing to the rising levels of poverty in Columbus.”
Union organizers haven’t yet set a strike date. They will notify the janitors — who have been working without a contract since December — whether they will be out on strike this week.
“Going on strike is not an easy decision to make, but not having health care and not being able to provide for my family is not an option,” said Dwayne Paige, a Columbus janitor who participated in the negotiations. “Our city desperately needs good jobs and we want to start by making sure janitors are paid a decent wage with affordable health care.”
***For Immediate Release***
Contact: Ivan Moreno, (773) 799-6455, email@example.com
Janitors call on cleaning companies to invest in desperately needed good jobs for Columbus
Columbus— Janitors and supporters held a rally and press conference in front of 5/3 Bank, announcing plans for first janitorial strike in the city’s history. Talks between janitors and representatives from some of the country’s largest cleaning companies broke down during their last scheduled meeting on Wednesday. Negotiations have taken a dramatic turn that would force janitors deeper into the cycle of poverty. Some of the city’s most profitable corporations contract out cleaning services to companies that pay janitors about $18,200 on average.
While other cities in Ohio were hit hard by the recent economic downturn, Columbus’s corporations were largely unaffected; working families in our city were not so lucky. While Columbus’s unemployment rate remains well below the national average at 6.2 percent, the poverty rate in our city has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. The child poverty rate now stands at 26.5 percent. Columbus janitor’s wages are so low that they qualify for a host of public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, free or reduced price school lunches and subsidized housing. They also earn less than their counterparts in comparable cities.
“The offer that janitors made on Wednesday would have protected full time hours and access affordable health care, and guaranteed modest wage increases that would have set hundreds of working families on a path out of poverty,” said Tyler French, SEIU Local 1 regional coordinator.
Columbus janitors clean the offices of some of the richest corporations in the country, including 5/3 Bank, Nationwide Insurance, JP Morgan Chase, Huntington Bank, and AEP Energy. In spite of this, janitors are paid so little that they qualify for food stamps and other public assistance programs. Low wage jobs like these are contributing to the rising levels of poverty in Columbus.
“Going on strike is not an easy decision to make, but not having health care and not being able to provide for my family is not an option,” says Dwayne Paige, a Columbus janitor who directly participated in negotiations. “Our city desperately needs good jobs and we want to start by making sure janitors are paid a decent wage with affordable health care.”
*** Advisory for Friday, August 9th, 2013***
Contact: Ivan Moreno, (773) 799-6455, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dramatic Turn in Negotiations Threatens to Push Janitors Deeper into Poverty, Janitors Plan Strike for First time in City’s History
COLUMBUS—Janitors and supporters will hold a press conference in front of the 5/3 Bank to give an update on contract negotiations with some of the largest cleaning contractors in the country. Negotiation talks have taken a dramatic turn that may force janitors deeper into the cycle of poverty. Downtown janitors clean the offices of some of the most profitable corporations in Columbus—such as 5/3 Bank, Nationwide Insurance, AEP Energy, Chase and Huntington Banks—but are paid about $18,200 on average.
While Columbus’s unemployment rate remains well below the national average, the poverty rate in our city has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. Recently released statistics show Franklin County child poverty rates at 26.5 percent. Janitors are taking an unprecedented step to fight for good jobs that will ensure a prosperous and sustainable future for Columbus’s working families and not just the richest corporations.
What: Rally and press conference giving an update on contract negotiations
Where: In front of 5/3 Bank – 21 E State St, Columbus
When: 3:00 PM – Friday, August 9, 2013
Visuals: Dozens of janitors and supporters holding handmade sign, posters and banners outside of 5/3 Bank.
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Hundreds of members of the Service Employees International Union Local 1 in Columbus are now authorized to strike as the group works to negotiate a new employment contract.
The group’s old contract expired in December 2012.
The vote to authorize a strike happened on Saturday and now means that workers can strike at anytime going forward in the negotiations.
According to Tyler French with the SEIU, employers are asking workers to cut hours and freeze wages. French also says that cutting hours means many of the workers would no longer qualify for health insurance.
Dwayne Paige is among the janitors who voted to authorize a strike. Paige says he worries about paying for his 16-year-old’s college education in a few years as well as what losing health insurance would mean.
“Health care is definitely a top issue. Cause I’m a diabetic. And I got to have my health care. If I don’t go see the doctor once a month and get my meds I could pretty much die,” Paige said.
NBC4 was unable to reach the workers’ employers for comment. However, many employers say they need to freeze wages in the current economy in order to survive while their own costs go up.
Local 1’s negotiations are currently on hold until early August.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the first time, Columbus janitors have told their union that they’re ready to strike, if need be.
They held an emergency meeting on Saturday and voted to authorize a strike.
A spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union said cleaning companies are trying to reduce the janitors’ wages and take away health care benefits.
Janitors and representatives for cleaning contractors are scheduled to meet again on Monday, August 5.
Union representatives will decide then whether to take the deal, or to strike.
Watch 10TV or visit 10TV.com for continuing coverage.
On Saturday afternoon, Columbus janitors voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike if it becomes necessary. This is the first time the janitors, who clean the majority of the commercial office space downtown, have authorized a strike.
State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) joined the janitors at the Ohio AFL-CIO office after the vote. “Many of these people work with us every day,” Rep. Heard said. “We absolutely stand on the side of right. That’s the side of fair wages, health care, and treating all people like human beings.”
Represented by SEIU Local 1, the janitors returned to the bargaining table with cleaning contractors on Monday, July 15. The cleaning companies have maintained their intention to freeze wages for at least two years and to cut janitors’ hours, disqualifying them for company-provided health coverage.
On average, full-time janitors in Columbus are paid just over $18,000 a year, well below the federal poverty line for a family of four. “By contrast, the CEOs of Columbus’ Fortune 1000 companies took home more than $133 million in 2012,” said Ivan Moreno of the SEIU.
According to The Ohio Poverty Report, the poverty rate in Columbus rose from 14.8 % in 1999 to 21.8% in 2011.
“We’re fighting for good jobs for ourselves and for the next generation,” said janitor Dwayne Paige. “I want my daughter to have a better future, and that’s not going to happen if wages for working people stay the same while everything else goes up.”
The janitors have been working without a contract since December. Janitors and representatives for cleaning contractors are scheduled to meet again on Monday, August 5.
On Monday afternoon, a rally drew nearly 100 janitors and community supporters, their largest protest yet outside the 175 on the Park building downtown. The janitors, who work for the Columbus-based Circle Building Services and other cleaning contractors, are asking for aliving wage and health care coverage from their employers.
“We’re here to send a very strong message,”SEIU Local 1 president Tom Balanoff told the crowd. “We’re tired of economic policies that push working families further and further down. We don’t want an economic recovery that’s just for the rich guys and the financiers. We need a recovery for the working people in this country.”
Balanoff also called on the building owner,Tiano and Associates, to support higher wages and health care for the janitors, who have been in contract negotiations for the past eight months.
“We are here to support better wages and affordable health care,” said Mohamud Jama of the Somali Education and Resource Center. Many of the janitors who work downtown are from the Somali immigrant community.
“When I was in second grade, my parents told me that if I wanted to go to college, I needed to get a job,” said Ohio State Rep. John Patrick Carney (D). “I realize what it takes for so many families to be able to put food on the table, to make the monthly rent. At $8.50 an hour, that is just not possible.
“We, your elected leaders, need to make sure that folks in management realize that you are the people who are building Ohio,” Carney said. “I know that reason is going to prevail. We’re going to see folks come to the table and realize that you are looking out for your families, just like they’re looking out for theirs. You deserve to have that American dream, and that only comes with decent wages and decent benefits.”
The janitors will meet on Saturday, July 20 to decide whether to go on strike. “This will be the first time in Columbus that we have authorized a strike vote,” said SEIU organizer Liliana Castillo.
As poverty in our city rises, even as unemployment continues to drop…
Columbus janitors authorize strike in historic vote
COLUMBUS—On Saturday, July 20th, Columbus janitors held an emergency meeting and voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary. Following their meeting, janitors announced the outcome of their vote to media and community supporters. Janitors were joined by elected leaders, including State Representative Tracy Heard.
Columbus janitors, who clean the majority of the commercial office space downtown, and cleaning contractors returned to the bargaining table on Monday, July 15th. Full-time Columbus janitors are currently paid just over $18,000 a year—well below the poverty level for a family. By contrast, the CEOs of Columbus’s Fortune 1000 companies took home more than $133 million in 2012.
Cleaning companies are still threatening to freeze wages for at least 2 years and to slash janitors’ hours. This would have a devastating effect on hundreds of working families in Columbus as janitors would not only lose access to health care, but up to half their income.
For months now, janitors and their supporters have been calling on local corporations to support a fair contract and to create good, family-sustaining jobs in Columbus, where the concentrated poverty rate has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. While business booms and the unemployment rate in Columbus continues to drop, the number of working people in our city living in poverty is rising, as is reliance on public assistance programs like food stamps. This is because fewer and fewer jobs in Columbus pay a living wage. In fact, a majority of Ohioans make less today than they did in 1979. Of the 10 largest occupations in Ohio, 8 do not pay enough for an adult and a child to survive without welfare.
“We’re fighting for good jobs for ourselves and for the next generation,” says Dwayne Paige, a Columbus janitor and father. “I want my daughter to have a better future, and that’s not going to happen if wages for working people stay the same while everything else goes up.”
Today’s “yes” vote means that the janitors’ bargaining committee can call a strike if and when it becomes necessary. Janitors and representatives for cleaning contractors are scheduled to meet again on Monday, August 5th.