Downtown St. Louis – Some 50 Service Employees International Union Local 1 janitors and their supporters braved cold temperatures and arrest Monday in a rally, march and act of civil disobedience as they continue fighting for a fair contract.
Joined by St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Alderwoman Megan Green (15th Ward), State Representative Wiley Price (House District 84), Representative Jay Mosley (House District 68), UNITE HERE Local 74, United Autoworkers, Planned Parenthood, SEIU Missouri/Kansas healthcare workers, the United Media Guild, Missouri Jobs with Justice, St. Louis County NAACP President John Bowman, Show Me $15 fast food workers, religious and community leaders gathered at the corner of 7th and Market streets for a rally, then marched to US Bank at Washington Ave. and 7th Street where about 20 joined hands in a sit-in that blocked the street until they were arrested by St. Louis police – demonstrating they are prepared to do whatever it takes to secure a minimum $15 wage and good union jobs for every working family to make the region more equitable across racial lines.
The janitors, who clean some of the most notable buildings in the region, including US Bank Plaza, Express Scripts, Wells Fargo and County facilities are struggling to support their families on wages as low as $10 an hour.
The region's racial income gap has grown by more than 10 percent since 2010, with black families three times more likely to live in poverty than white.
With their current agreement with cleaning contractors like CleanTech expiring, and negotiations for a new one continuing later in the week, janitors and allies will show building owners that our region cannot wait for the higher wages they need to support their families. With their existing contract expiring, and negotiations for a new one continuing this week, the janitors and allies aimed to show building owners that workers cannot wait for the higher wages they need to support their families.
The demonstration earned national attention after presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander joined the fight online, expressing their support for the janitors.
Major institutions, like Treasurer Jones’ office, BJC Healthcare and Washington University in St. Louis put thousands of direct employees on the path to a $15 wage.
Earlier this month, Mayor Lyda Krewson raised wages to $15 for City civil service workers.
It’s time the same is done for janitors, so they can strengthen their families and communities.
Look for full coverage in the Feb. 6 print edition of the Labor Tribune.