Hundreds of O'Hare Workers Set to Lose Jobs Friday

Friday is the day hundreds of O'Hare Airport workers have been dreading.

About 350 janitors stand to lose their jobs because of a $99 million cleaning contract Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration awarded to another company. The contract takes effect Friday, leaving the workers out of a job just before Christmas.

The workers have protested at the airport and at Emanuel's office, but it appears the mayor isn't changing his mind.

"It's not right," said Jermaine Samples, one of the workers being laid off in a message to the mayor. "We voted for you. You're supposed to be here for us like we were there for you."

Last month Emanuel's administration awarded the O'Hare cleaning contract to United Maintenance, replacing Scrub, Inc., whose contract expired June 30. The move has since led to a number of protests and cries of mob ties linked to the new deal.

Emanuel has said the contract went through a competitive bidding process that he said resulted in work for the Service Employees International Union and the hiring of about 100 former employees.

"I would note that that same company has a number of contracts with high rises downtown in the city of Chicago with SEIU," Emanuel said. "So, there's a fuller story, a more complete story. There's more than just one side to this story."

The janitor's union said United wants to hire workers at a lower wage. Emanuel's office said some workers will actually make more under the new contract with better help benefits.

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