Chicago janitors represented by SEIU* Local 1 took to the streets Thursday morning as they began gearing up for pending contract negotiations.
SEIU Local 1 leaders and dozens of Chicago custodians from institutional and commercial services kicked off their 2015 janitorial contract campaign on the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Their contracts are set to expire in April.
The unionized janitors, including many who clean Chicago Public Schools (CPS) buildings, rolled out their campaign calling for better wages and benefits outside of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, 4445 S. Drexel Boulevard.
"Of course, Martin Luther King, he stood for many things, but people fail to realize he died supporting the sanitation strike in Memphis, supporting sanitation workers who were being treated unfair," said Lonnell Saffold, director of institutional services for SEIU Local 1. "We believe that it's only right we be here to commemorate him and realize that his struggle is not going to die."
Worker advocates are sounding the alarm on "dangerous" and "unhealthy" working conditions at Nippon Sharyo's passenger train factory in Rochelle, Illinois.
Employees at the Rochelle plant -- which has received millions in grants, tax credits and training money from the state -- build railcars for Metra and other public transit agencies.
With the help of the AFL-CIO, current and former factory employees filed a complaint last month with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), alleging that workers "are exposed to serious, unsafe conditions on an ongoing basis."
Striking workers at Golan's Moving and Storage in Skokie saw support Friday afternoon from U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL,9) and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (7th).
About 90 unionized workers at Golan's have been on strike since July 28 due to sluggish contract talks with their employer. Workers at the Skokie moving company, located at 3600 Jarvis Ave., have been waiting for their first labor contract since winning union representation by Teamsters Local 705 in December.
Schakowsky and Garcia hit the picket lines with the workers Friday, the same day union and company officials met for a contract negotiation session with a federal mediator. The elected officials urged the company to bargain in good faith with the workers.