CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Teachers Union has stepped up the fight to increase the minimum wage in Chicago, demanding better pay for non-union workers at the Chicago Public Schools, and mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has joined their effort.

CPS teachers and other workers rallied outside CPS headquarters on Wednesday, ahead of the Chicago Board of Education meeting, where they planned to present a proposal to require a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all district employees and subcontracted workers.

“Parents who cannot get regular hours at their job, who cannot make the living wage, have a difficult time providing their children – who are our students – with the kind of environment necessary for real learning,” CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey said. “That is why you’re going to see the Chicago Teachers Union standing side-by-side with the people behind me in the Fight For 15.”

Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said he would be there to support a higher minimum wage.

“I stand here today as someone who understands the plight of thousands and thousands of Chicagoans, in Chicago neighborhoods, who need to increase their wages,” Garcia said.

Garcia said Chicago’s economy would improve if all CPS workers were paid at least $15 an hour.

After the rally Garcia tried slipping away without answering any questions, until cornered, and asked how he would pay for the higher wages at CPS.

“There’s been a lot of waste at Chicago Public Schools. There’ve been a lot of money that have been given to the cronies of the mayor, to corporations, to investment bankers. If there’s enough money to make them happy, there ought to be enough money to pay for frontline workers within Chicago Public Schools,” he said.

Subcontracted CPS workers and Safe Passage staffers said they can’t afford to live in Chicago with their current pay. Many planned to testify before the Board of Education on Wednesday. According to the CPS website, Safe Passage workers are paid $10 an hour for 5 hours of work each school day.

“I feel that $10 an hour is not enough, because it makes it hard for me to get transportation costs to get to work,” Safe Passage worker Jonathan Nelson said.

School janitors also rallied outside CPS headquarters on Wednesday, to call for better benefits, and more full-time positions. Nearly 500 janitors were laid off last year, and many were brought back only on a part-time basis.

After rallying outside CPS headquarters, the janitors marched to Daley Plaza and City Hall.

Wednesday’s rally was organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, and the Fight For 15 campaign.

Fight For 15 has organized several earlier rallies by fast food workers, who also are seeking a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s campaign called Wednesday’s rally a “stunt” by Garcia, saying the Emanuel administration already requires a $13-an-hour minimum wage for all city contract workers and CPS employees. The City Council also has approved an ordinance gradually raising Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by the middle of 2019.

“A stunt press conference won’t make up for the fact that after 30 years of public service, Chuy has never once successfully raised the minimum wage. At the same time, Rahm has led successful efforts three times in his career – and just last year issued an executive order to raise the wage for city contract employees to $13 an hour,” said Emanuel campaign spokesman Steve Mayberry. “Chuy does a lot of complaining about Rahm, but Chuy’s total failure to achieve any of his promises at any point in his three-decade career should worry Chicago voters.”

However, Safe Passage workers are paid only $10 an hour, because the district’s $13 minimum wage requirement has an exception for people who work for non-profits, and CPS provides funding to non-profits to hire Safe Passage workers.