CHICAGO—On Tuesday evening, burghal Chicago was in abounding anniversary approach as bodies perused the Christkindlmarket beneath the city’s aerial Christmas tree. But one ablaze arrangement of lights drew bifold takes from shoppers and revelers. Fourteen people, lined up in advanced of a canton building, captivated placards that spelled in dejected lights: “RAHM = JOBKILLER.”
The sign‐holders—union janitors who apple-pie Chicago’s O’Hare airport—say that acknowledgment to Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, they won’t be able to bless the holidays this year. About 300 janitors and window washers represented by SEIU Local 1 are slated to lose their jobs on Dec. 15, aback the abutment architect that active them, Scrub Inc., is replaced by addition firm. The ambassador went with a cheaper bid from United Maintenance Co., which offers lower accomplishment with no affiance of full‐time work. The five‐year, $99 million arrangement was awarded Oct. 31, and in aboriginal December, Scrub workers accustomed blush block adage Dec. 15 would be their aftermost day.
“Ho, ho, HO, Rahm Emanuel has got to go!” chanted several hundred janitors and their supporters as they marched through Burghal Hall and the Christkindlmarket, afore accumulating in advanced of the city’s Christmas tree. “They took our jobs and they took our pay, appropriate afore the hol‐i‐day!”
Abounding agitated signs or sported ons reading, “Rahm Emanuel, Job Killer.” One woman captivated a affiche mapping out the appear Mob ties of United Maintenance, the close assassin to alter Scrub.
“What our ambassador is accomplishing is a sin and a shame,” Dr. Rev. Calvin S. Morris told the crowd. Invoking Emanuel’s Jewish heritage, the long‐time civil-rights and interfaith baton added, “When you move in the division of Christmas and Hanukkah…This man who knows the travails of people, who comes from a attitude of bodies who’ve struggled…to put profits over bodies is a sin and a shame.”
This wasn’t the janitors’ aboriginal beef with a celebratory theme—on Nov. 29, Emanuel’s 53rd birthday, they sang Happy Altogether to the ambassador in three languages, captivation candles and a block alfresco his home.
Alarm for protections
As janitors and their supporters pleaded with Emanuel to revisit his accommodation on the O’Hare contract, they additionally alleged for access of a proposed authorization advised to assure workers in the future.
The Amenable Bidders Authorization would administer to all burghal affairs over $50,000 for window‐washing, aegis and janitorial services. It would agreement insurance, prevailing accomplishment and added protections for workers active by clandestine contractors accomplishing burghal jobs. It would absolute and in some cases ban such affairs from activity to firms that accept been cited for violations of activity law, and would authorization that new contractors appoint absolute workers for at atomic a balloon period. Such accoutrement are already generally allotment of a city’s appeal for proposals, but backers of the authorization say they should be mandated. An SEIU actuality area explains:
Afterwards the ordinance, Chicago workers are accountable to abrupt job accident at no accountability of their own, acutely bargain wages, aishment of all bloom allowance allowances (driving all workers in to the tax payer adjourned Cook Canton Bloom System), and aishment of all added allowances such as ailing canicule and retirement security.
On the morning of the Tuesday protest, four Chicago aldermen aing two soon‐to‐be‐laid‐off janitors in a columnist appointment at Burghal Hall, area they alleged on the ambassador and burghal board to canyon the ordinance. The afterward morning, Chicago Federation of Activity admiral Jorge Ramirez and added activity leaders captivated a columnist appointment afore the account burghal board affair to altercate for the ordinance. Ramirez, who has been an accessory of Emanuel’s on added issues, accepted the rebidding of the O’Hare arrangement and access of the Amenable Bidders Ordinance, “under which our communities will thrive, [rather than actuality in] a chase to the bottom.”
While a adequate majority of 31 of the 50 aldermen accept active on to the ordinance, Alderman Nick Sposato acclaimed that afterwards mayoral abutment it can calmly abide ashore in a “dark hole,” clumsy to canyon out of a board as bare for a abounding board vote. Currently the angle is absolutely adjourned in the Board on Workforce Development and Audit, which is chaired by a mayoral loyalist, Alderman Patrick O’Connor.
Along with Sposato, Aldermen Rick Muñoz, Scott Waguespack and Roderick Sawyer on Tuesday declared the janitorial arrangement as allotment of a beyond trend wherein Emanuel’s administering is slashing “middle‐class” abutment jobs and replacing them with low‐paid positions in the name of accessory accumulation for taxpayers or—in the case of the janitors—for airlines, which pay fees that armamentarium the O’Hare contracts.
“The burghal ability be extenuative a little money here, but at what cost?” asked Muñoz. “In actuality fiscally amenable are we actuality socially irresponsible?” He lamented that the burghal would “put these families out on the street” in adjustment “to save a nickel actuality and a nickel there.”
The aldermen additionally bidding affair over the layoffs of 34 above advisers of the city’s baptize administering alarm center. The burghal adored $100,000 by outsourcing the assignment to a Japanese firm. Sawyer said he was promised Emanuel’s administering would try to acquisition new burghal jobs for the employees, which accommodate his constituents. But, he tells In These Times, as of Tuesday no new jobs had been confirmed.
“There’s a actual advancing trend actuality with the way things accept been accident in this administration,” said Waguespack. “It’s not alone not Chicagoan but additionally actual un‐American to accompany in companies that cut accomplishment to accommodate so‐called added able services.”
A anniversary afterwards a job
Janitors Jermaine Samples and Mildred Rueda, aforetime active by Scrub Inc., told reporters at Burghal Hall on Tuesday that they both angry in applications for jobs with United Maintenance, admitting the astringent pay cut and abridgement of benefits, but accept not heard back. “We had to angle in band like the accepted accessible to administer for our jobs—people were lining up at 5 a.m,” said Samples.
United Maintenance agent Steve Patterson told In These Times that the aggregation does not accept applications on book from Samples and Rueda, and that United Maintenance is hiring about 100 above Scrub employees. He said the company, which hires at altered offices in the city, set a three canicule accurately to aggregate applications from Scrub workers.
However, workers who talked with In These Times adumbrated that they were not acutely notified about aback and area to administer for jobs with United Maintenance. One artisan who asked her name not be used—she still hopes to get her job back—told In These Times that she went to the defined appointment on the city’s South ancillary but was told that appliance forms had run out and that she should accelerate in her resume. She did, she said, and has not heard back. She’s formed at the airport for about nine years, and doesn’t apperceive what she’ll do if she isn’t rehired. She told In These Times she got alone one hour of beddy-bye in the 24 hours afore the rally; afterwards her black about-face at the airport she spent all day fruitlessly gluttonous new work.
“They’re demography my job abroad from me and giving it to addition else; it’s not fair,” said Rueda, 35. “People acquaint us we do a admirable job, but we’re active ysis to ysis and almost authoritative it.” Currently, afterwards seven years at the airport, Rueda, 35, makes $15.80 per hour.
Beneath United Maintenance’s arrangement with the city, starting janitors charge be offered the abject “prevailing wage” as bent by the accompaniment Administering of Labor: $11.90 an hour. Beneath the prevailing allowance provisions, workers will beforehand to $15.30 an hour by their fifth year. While that pay is not a lot lower than what accepted workers are authoritative beneath their abutment contract, janitors and their supporters point out it isn’t fair for workers with years of acquaintance to accept to reapply for their jobs and, if they are hired, bead aback to starting wages. (Window washers’ abject allowance ante are higher, $17.65 per hour.) Moreover, the abutment believes best of these jobs will be part-time..
“These are bodies who are authoritative $40,000 or $50,000 a year, advantageous taxes, abounding of them the alone agent in their family,” said Waguespack. “And you’re cogent them to acquisition addition job, to go fish.”
“They’re not activity to be able to go to Boeing and get one of these jobs the ambassador is bringing in,” he added, apropos to the Emanuel administering touting the conception of tens of bags of new jobs, abundantly through relocating accumulated address to burghal Chicago. Critics accept acclaimed that abounding of these “corporate” jobs—not accessible to bodies like Rueda and Samples—are additionally already abounding by bodies assassin aback the companies’ address were in the suburbs.
Rueda told reporters that, starting Friday, she will attending for new work. Aback asked what she will do for the holidays, she said, “I’m beholden to accept my family, but in agreement of celebrating, there will not be any.”
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