CHICAGO – SEIU Local 1 window washers, joined by Chicago Latino Caucus Chairman Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) outside Trump Tower, announced Monday afternoon they have voted overwhelmingly to strike, if necessary. A strike could occur anytime after their current collective bargaining agreement expires on June 30.
“Any strike we have would disrupt the industry for the entire season,” said Cruz Guzman, a Chicago window washer with Service One. “We’re ready to do whatever it takes to help support our families, even go on strike. Because too many of us are barely making ends meet. We’re asking our employers: come to the table and offer us a fair wage for the dangerous work we do. And we’re asking the people of Chicago to support us.”
Every day, 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 are struggling on low wages and a healthcare policy that forces many to rely on public assistance.
“The working people who do some of the most dangerous work in our city should not struggle to make ends meet. Their families should not be forced to rely on public assistance for healthcare,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “That’s why window washers are demanding a fair raise and a better healthcare plan to help them support their families and communities.”
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.
Last week, 20 Local 1 building engineers, representing six different management companies, were the first group to graduate from the one-year Certified Residential Engineers training program! The training program, a partnership between labor and management, is aimed at improving the lives of Local 1 members and the residents they serve in their buildings. Congrats CRE graduates!
Check out video from the event and hear from the graduates:
SEIU Local 1 Residential Division engineers, janitors, and maintenance workers have spent weeks, tirelessly working on negotiating a strong, new contract. When Local 1 members came together and kicked off their campaign to protect their health benefits, win good raises, and secure their retirement programs, they also wanted to let Chicago contractors know: We mean business!
United in the fight, janitors, maintenance workers, and engineers have rallied for the past few weeks, and their strength continues to grow! Each residential rally is bigger than the last with future rallies planned in the coming weeks.
Despite our efforts to build a better future for our families, contract negotiations broke down with ABOMA last week. ABOMA has refused to budge on important issues to Local 1 residential members and their families but Local 1 members will not go down without a fight! We will continue to stand united as we face obstacles in negotiations.
Together, we are showing ABOMA AND non-union contractors throughout Chicago that we fight hard and don’t back down. We won’t back down because this is about what our families and what our great city deserves. We’re fighting to raise standards for ALL working people in Chicago. Local 1 members will keep up the pressure until they win the financial security they need to support their families.
Stay tuned for more updates!
More than 40 SEIU Local 1 Chief Engineers, Assistant Engineers, Maintenance Mechanics and Residential Janitors came together to start their campaign for a better contract and higher wages. Local 1 members came together to discuss better bargaining strategies in preparation for the start of contract negotiations on July 11th.
With our contract set to expire on November 30th, it’s important we stand together and get involved to win at the bargaining table. We can win the raises we need and a more secure retirement if EVERYONE participates.
If you were unable to attend the meeting, we want to hear your voice! Click here and let us know what you want to see out of your new contract.
And mark your calendars: Don’t forget attend our campaign kickoff on June 28th, 1340 W. Washington, Chicago 5PM!
Residential Division Director
SEIU Local 1