"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"
The chants of three dozen janitors and their supporters, accompanied by the boom of a large bass drum, echoed off the sides of the massive Chase Tower on Monument Circle during last Thursday afternoon's rush hour.
The janitors are members of Service Employees International Union Local 1, and they were complaining about the wages paid by the contractor ABM. The multinational corporation employs the workers who clean the Chase Tower and several other office buildings downtown. The rally comes on the heels of recent janitors' strikes in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. The janitors begin contract negotiations with the company in December.
"We and the other members of the contractors association are committed to reaching an agreement in the mutual best interest of all involved parties - employees, companies and customers alike," said Chas Strong, spokesperson for ABM. "The current collective bargaining agreement, which was negotiated by the union, provides employees with wages and benefits - all according to the terms approved by the union and its membership. We look forward to the beginning of negotiations next month and will work hard at the bargaining table to achieve a successful resolution."
According to the SEIU, the median salary for janitors in Indianapolis is less than $14,000 a year, and many of the workers are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded programs to meet basic needs such as healthcare, food, and housing.