September 30, 2015
By John Quinn, LaborPress USA
Philadelphia Pennsylvania – Over 2,000 janitors converged in Philadelphia Wednesday September 30th. The workers were rallying for good jobs and fair contracts. The rally was held outside a luxury high rise where new building management illegally displaced union workers.
Juanita Acre, a member of local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), says good paying union jobs are in jeopardy. "You got the real estate companies throwing our people out of their building and trying to make it non-union," she says. "This is contract time and it's Important to us to stop them."
According to Acre, union workers are making a living wage. But while rent on residential and commercial real estate keeps skyrocketing, developers in Philadelphia and other cities are trying to push workers back to minimum wage levels. "We're making $16.44. Some are making a little more than that," she says. "They're trying to break us down to $7.25, $8.25, $9.25, with no benefit."
Acre says the janitors and commercial office cleaners have worked hard to make a decent living for themselves and their families.
"We just want to be part of the middle class," she says. "We're not going to accept anything less. And we think we have what we earned and they're trying to take it away. We're not going to accept that."
Fair contracts will go a long way toward addressing the growing income inequality condemned by Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S. More than 75,000 office cleaners from Massachusetts to Virginia are bargaining for contracts this year affecting the lives of nearly half a million men, women and children.