Workers rally outside 22nd Judicial Circuit Court

St. Louis community leaders, workers urge courts to terminate contract with irresponsible janitorial contractor Challenge Unlimited

WORKERS, ALLIES AND ELECTED OFFICIALS rallied outside the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court here Aug. 24 to urge the termination of the Courts’ contract with non-union janitorial company, Challenge Unlimited. – SEIU Local 1 photo

Downtown St. Louis – Nearly 100 SEIU Local 1 workers, allies and elected officials rallied outside the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court here Aug. 24 to urge the termination of the courts’ contract non-union janitorial company, Challenge Unlimited.

For weeks, SEIU Local 1 and non-union janitors of Challenge Unlimited have contacted the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in hopes of working cooperatively to improve the quality of life for St. Louis’s janitors. Unfortunately, the court system has refused to uphold St. Louis’s strong Labor standards by utilizing Challenge Unlimited, an irresponsible janitorial contractor.

“Janitors employed by Challenge Unlimited who keep the downtown courts safe and clean have worked tirelessly to provide high-quality service and protection throughout the pandemic and beyond,” said SEIU Local 1 Missouri Director Christian Rak. “It is unconscionable that these essential workers continue to ensure our community is safe, yet lack benefits that allow them to do the same for their own families. Challenge Unlimited has done wrong by these workers for far too long and workers have had enough.”

Marvin King, a former janitor at Challenge Unlimited said, “As a former janitor for Challenge Unlimited, I have experienced firsthand the unjust actions by this contractor. Because of my documented disability, Challenge Unlimited classified me as a client rather than an employee, allowing them to deny me unemployment benefits. Every worker should have access to the same benefits – regardless of a disability. I am speaking out because Challenge Unlimited can’t get away with this anymore. This community deserves better. We deserve better.”

SEIU Local 1 has reached out to the current presiding judge, Judge Michael Stelzer, who has chosen to overlook these unjust actions. Challenge Unlimited janitors and allies will continue to speak out until the court terminates its contract with Challenge Unlimited and chooses a responsible contractor that is committed to retaining all existing janitors, compliance with ADA and expanding competitive integrated employment.

Challenge Unlimited janitors were joined in solidarity by

  • State Representative Barbara Phifer (D-St. Louis).
  • Alderman James Lappe.
  • Alderman Bill Stephens.
  • Alderwoman Anne Schweitzer.
  • Alderwoman Dr. Megan E. Green. 
  • Alderwoman Tina Pihl.
  • Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard.
  • St. Louis School Board Member Alisha Sonnier.
  • Missouri Jobs for Justice.
  • SEIU Healthcare.
  • Epiphany United Church of Christ leaders.
  • Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
  • The Missouri Workers Center.

Workers, faith leaders and disability rights advocates will hold a prayer vigil outside the Tucker Blvd. entrance to City Hall, after addressing the Board of Estimate & Apportionment on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m.


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