CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Housing Authority maintenance workers rallied outside Tuesday’s CHA board meeting, calling on the agency to re-think the companies it’s awarding contracts to.

“We have always been essential but are rarely treated like it,” said CHA maintenance worker Yvette Pigrum-Carter.

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CHA workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1 said, when the agency hired a company called Manage Chicago for building upkeep, cleaning, and repairs to CHA properties, it led to nearly a dozen Black and Brown workers losing their jobs.

The union also claimed there are issues with the company’s bid application and references.

Manage Chicago is scheduled to take over as property manager of the Altgeld Gardens site in September, and SEIU said it believes the move will lead to another 23 workers out of a job.

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“Local 1 workers urge CHA to do the right thing: utilize responsible contractors that are going to provide working families with higher wages, strong benefits, and a voice on the job, so that our communities can prosper,” said Lupita Aguila, SEIU Local 1 Residential Division Director.

A CHA spokesperson confirmed property management at Altgeld Gardens switches from East Lake Management Group to Manage Chicago in September.

“As part of this change, the incoming property management firms generally interview existing staff for consideration for new positions, but the property management firms themselves are responsible for all personnel decisions,” spokeswoman Karen Vaughan wrote in an email. “This change in property managers came from a recent competitive bidding process to further improve services to families in CHA public housing.”

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Manage Chicago did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff