Janitors in Barrington School District 220 are scheduled to go on strike Thursday, which is the first day of school. The workers are striking over a wage cut that took place after their contract expired on June 30.
"Despite their dedication, they are being paid poverty wages and are struggling to make ends meet. After numerous failed attempts at negotiations with RJB as well as communication with the school district, Barrington 220 custodians will be going on strike," reads a press release from SEIU* Local 1, which represents the janitors.
The janitors' wages were decreased from $9.77 an hour to $8.50 an hour by RJB Properties, which employs the workers.
"The wage cuts occurred despite increases in the district's revenues since 2011," the union's memo states. "Government aid to the district is 5% higher than last year, and state aid is 8.5% higher. The custodians' pay accounts for less than one-third of one percent (0.302%) of the Barrington budget. Paying the 23 custodians $12 an hour would increase the budget by only 0.12%; paying them $15 an hour would increase the budget by 0.22%."
A school district official told the Chicago Tribune that they are required by law to accept the lowest bidder for contracts, which was RJB in this case. The spokesperson went on to state that the district does not renegotiate contracts mid-year, adding that RJB assured them that they will have the necessary number of janitors needed for the day Thursday. The workers are expected to start the picket line at 2:30 p.m. and school lets out at 2:35 p.m.
* The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.