INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Eight Indianapolis cleaning companies have reached a tentative agreement with SEIU Local 1 that would increase janitors’ starting wages from $9.75 per hour to $11.50 over three years, as well as lowering health-insurance premiums to $100 per month and adding paid sick days. The deal, which has not yet been ratified by the about 650 janitors in Local 1, came shortly after an Oct. 25 sit-in at the headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. It highlighted the way corporations outsource custodial work to low-wage contractors. “Eli Lilly feels like it’s not their responsibility to take care of those janitors,” Clarence Jones, who works at the company’s downtown Technology Center for SBM Management Services, told Indianapolis Business Journal. “They give a lump sum to [SBM] and say, ‘That’s what you have to work with.’” “Everything is set up in a way to avoid responsibility,” said Local 1 organizer Paul Nappier, explaining why the union held the protest at the contractors’ customers. City Councilor Jared Evans said the low wages were “alarming”: His mother made almost $9 an hour as a janitor in 1994, and almost 25 years later, “we’re talking about trying to get people up to $11.50.” Read more


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