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Janitors Vote To Authorize Potential Strike In Search For $15 Per Hour

Should negotiations stall before the current contract expires on July 31, 1,700 Local 1 janitors would be allowed to walk off the job at any time after the set date.

July 23, 2018 - 7:58 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) -- Janitors from the Service Employees International Union Local 1 voted Monday to allow a possible industry-wide strike, should negotiations for higher hourly wages fall through before their contract expires at the end of the month.

As the days of contract negotiations for a $15 hourly wage in a three-year contract are numbered, SEIU Local 1 janitors, along with several prominent Detroit clergy members and elected officials made the announcement Monday as they aim for the pay raise.

Should negotiations stall before the current contract expires on July 31, 1,700 Local 1 janitors would be allowed to walk off the job at any time after the set date.

SEIU Local 1 janitor Tamara Chapple, who cleans the One Campus Martius office downtown Detroit, said the janitors voted overwhelmingly to authorize the bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary. 

“We’re ready to do whatever it takes, including striking, to win a better future for ourselves, our families and all of Detroit,” Chapple said.

A release from the SEIU Local 1 say janitors are struggling to raise their families on hourly wages as low as $9.45. Median annual earnings for janitors are so low that many rely on public assistance just to make ends meet.

Pamela Moore, a union member, says money is not the only thing on the table -- they are also seeking healthcare benefits.

"Maybe after tomorrow they'll come to and say they're ready to negotiate," Moore told Newsradio 950. "We will stop it if they don't step their game up."
 
“We cannot continue to allow everyday Detroiters to go unnoticed, unnamed and undercompensated while our leaders give millions of dollars to billionaires and allow them to only focus on their profits and not our people,” said the Reverend Dr. Tellis Chapman. “If we are ever going to be One Detroit, everyone has to realize that the cost of living has increased for janitors too and agree that janitors should be able to earn enough to keep up. We simply can’t allow them to be squeezed out of Detroit’s comeback.”

The fight for higher wages began in June when Local 1 janitors began the "One Detroit" campaign, which aims for "a city in which all working people can experience the benefits of Detroit’s redevelopment."

While the fight starts with higher wages for janitors, it also seeks to get $15 hourly wages and union rights for security officers, arena workers, airport workers and more, according to the Local 1 release.