Contract negotiations begin this week for nearly 15,000 union janitors who work in office buildings in Chicago, Schaumburg, Deerfield, Oak Brook, and other suburbs. Over 3,000 workers marched the Loop streets, hoping for better wages and benefits.
The march, which traveled from a rally at the Chicago Theatre to Federal Plaza, included Congressman Danny Davis, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and three Chicago alderman.
"We know it's tough times," Erica Hade, spokesperson for Service Employees International Union, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Everybody is struggling. Working people are struggling to pay their mortgages and make ends meet. But we think there needs to be a partnership between everyone who's hurting to try to get our economy back on track."
Currently, according to the union, downtown janitors' hourly wages range from $11.15 to $14.55, and the wage is $10.55 in the suburbs. The union remarks that this is less than half of the cost of living for a family of four in the area.
"If people like us could make ends meet, our communities and our economy would be stronger," suburban janitor Angelica Gonzalez said. "If we had more money, we would spend it on our daily necessities. We would buy the things our children need, and we would be able to pay our bills."
Another rally is scheduled for March 5 at the Fifth Third Bank in Schaumburg.