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O’Hare Janitors Stage City Hall Protest Against Change In Contractors

Union workers gather outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office at City Hall on Nov. 9, 2012, to protest a move to replace union custodians at O'Hare International Airport with non-union workers, under a new contract with a different custodial firm. (Credit: CBS)

Union workers gather outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office at City Hall on Nov. 9, 2012, to protest a move to replace union custodians at O’Hare International Airport with non-union workers, under a new contract with a different custodial firm. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Union workers descended on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office at City Hall on Friday, protesting the move to change companies handling janitorial services at O’Hare International Airport.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports the protesters accused the mayor of turning his back on union workers.

Chants of “shame on Rahm” echoed through the fifth floor at City Hall, as members of Service Employees International Union Local 1 protested the city’s plan to replace 300 union janitors at O’Hare with a non-union private contractor that pays lower wages.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody Reports

“I have a holiday coming up, and now that I know that a lot of us might be losing our jobs, I don’t even know if Christmas is going to be good for myself and my kids,” said Mildred Rueda, a single mother and grandmother.

Rueda said she doesn’t know what she’ll do for Christmas if the mayor follows through with a plan to change custodial contractors at O’Hare from Scrub, Inc., — which uses union workers — to United Maintenance, a non-union shop.

The SEIU janitors argued their efforts are vital, and they should be fairly compensated, and they asked the mayor to keep union janitors at O’Hare.

“We haven’t had anybody say bad things about our bathrooms at all. They’ve come in, and they say that our bathrooms are the cleanest bathrooms out of all the other airports,” Rueda said.

She said the mayor should come to the airport himself to see their work first-hand.