CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite a recent agreement to hire 200 more janitors this summer to clean schools, the Chicago Teachers Union said Chicago Public Schools officials aren’t doing enough, leaving kids in schools so dirty they’re dangerous.
CTU members protested outside Kenwood Academy on Friday, dressed in Hazmat suits to show in dramatic fashion the union’s view that conditions in some CPS schools have become hazardous.
“While Aramark gets filthy rich – hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts – our schools remain filthy,” CTU staff coordinator Jackson Potter said.
Aramark is one of the private companies brought in to clean public schools in Chicago. CTU officials said the company has cut more than 1,000 janitorial positions in the past six years, leading to rodent and bug infestations at many schools across the system.
On Thursday, two days before janitors represented by SEIU Local 1 were set to hold a strike vote, CPS agreed to hire 200 more janitors. Union officials said that’s not enough, especially when only half of them are being hired for permanent positions; the rest are working only through the summer.
“We have rodents, roaches, mold, mildew, asbestos; in other words, filthy unsanitary unhealthy schools,” said CTU recording secretary Michael Brunson.
The teachers union was demanding the district hire 500 janitors, and is urging state lawmakers to restore the union’s right to bargain over non-educational issues such as school cleanliness.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not answer any questions about the issue at an unrelated event Friday morning.
Aramark did not immediately respond to requests for comment.