Union Janitors March Downtown Ahead Of Contract Talks

CHICAGO (CBS) — About 3,000 union janitors occupied the plaza outside of Chase Bank in downtown Chicago Sunday afternoon, as the group prepared for contract negotiations.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, members of the Service Employees International Union chanted “we are the 99 percent” and “si se puede” as they marched from a rally at 175 N. State St. to the Chase offices at 10 S. Dearborn St.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

Negotiations are slated to start in just over a week and the current agreement with commercial office buildings, the city of Chicago and several public school districts expires April 8th.

Among the janitors marching on Sunday was Ed Washington, who said it’s impossible to support his family of four on what he makes cleaning Elihu Yale Elementary School on the South Side.

Washington said he doesn’t buy arguments that business is still suffering the recession and that workers might have to sacrifice.

SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff fired up the crowd at the packed theater, where janitors could listen to the 90 minute-long rally in Polish or Spanish on headsets. He said they will not accept lower wages and a loss of benefits in their next contract.

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