Ohio

House Democratic Leader Tracy Heard Carried on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy by Launching a Food Drive for Poverty Stricken Janitors

*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

On the 50th Anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom…

House Democratic Leader Tracy Heard Carried on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy by Launching a Food Drive for Poverty Stricken Janitors

 COLUMBUS, OH—This afternoon, on the 50th Anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom, State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard (D) launched a food drive in support of Columbus janitors who plan to strike for their right to fight for good jobs. As part of the 50th anniversary, Heard and the Columbus janitors rang bells at 4:04pm, the time Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have A Dream” speech ended, to carry on MLK Jr.’s legacy—part of today’s national bell-ringing ceremonies.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. And that dream was that in our country, if you work hard, you should be able to provide for your family. But that is simply not true for thousands of low wage workers in Columbus. It is wrong for someone to work full time and still not make enough to put food on the table. That is not the America Dr. King dreamed of 50 years ago. I am standing with the janitors for the right to fight for good jobs and the right to fight for a better future for all of us,” stated House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard.

While the janitors were working to improve wages and benefits, some employers responded with threats and intimidation, forcing their janitors to call a strike to put an end to such retaliation.

“This was a very hard decision for us to make, but we are doing what we have to do,” says Philip Rudolph, a janitor at the Lazarus building in downtown Columbus. “We are standing up for a wage that will allow us to support our families, and in response we are being punished and harassed. So we decided together that we have to stand up for our families.”

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 and high profile buildings in Columbus—such as Nationwide Insurance, Huntington Bank and the Lazarus Building—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 for working people.

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SEIU Local 1 unites 50,000 property service workers in the central United States, 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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Columbus at a Crossroads

Columbus at a CrossroadsRead 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.

 

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House Democratic Leader Tracy Heard Hosts Strike Food Drive for Poverty Stricken Janitors

*** Advisory for Wednesday, August 28th, 2013***

Contact: Amanda Hart, harta@seiu1.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.

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Downtown Columbus janitors announce plans for historic strike [Examiner.com]

by Steve Palm-Houser, August 11, 2013.

SEIU Local 1 rally at Fifth Third Bank (Steve Palm-Houser).

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.”

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Downtown Columbus Janitors Announce Strike

***For Immediate Release***

Contact: Ivan Moreno, (773) 799-6455, morenoi@seiu1.org

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.”

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Strike Looms for Columbus Janitors

*** Advisory for Friday, August 9th, 2013***

Contact: Ivan Moreno, (773) 799-6455, morenoi@seiu1.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.

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Columbus Janitors Vote To Authorize Strike [NBC4 – Columbus]

by Nadia Bashir, July 20, 2013

For full video coverage, click on the image above!

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.

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Columbus Janitors Vote To Authorize Union To Call A Strike If Necessary [10TV.com]

Sunday, July 21, 2013

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.

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Columbus Janitors Authorize Strike [Examiner]

by Steve Palm-Houser, July 22, 2013

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.

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