Detroit janitors win $15/hour

Detroit — The movement for a $15-an-hour minimum wage for all workers took a step forward in Detroit when 1,700 downtown janitors, represented by Service Employees Local 1, ratified a contract that raises their hourly pay to $15 over the next three years. These workers, who clean government and corporate buildings, make as little as $9.45 an hour, and many rely on public assistance to supplement their meager income.

At a mass rally on July 23, the union announced an Aug. 1 strike deadline if the demand to raise pay to $15 during the life of the contract was not met. A week later, workers were celebrating, having ratified the new contract on July 28. The strike threat was enough to compel the cleaning companies to bring wages up — with no concessions in health care or other benefits to offset the added labor costs. In addition, the Detroit City Council unanimously voted in July to support the janitors’ demands.

“It was a hard fight, but we were victorious,” said bargaining committee member Kris Sherman-Burns. Sherman-Burns was one of the 30 janitors who represented their peers in negotiations.

“We showed working people across Detroit that when we come together, we can win better futures,” said janitor Latisha Pinkard. (Detroit News, July 30)

Local 1 emphasized during the victory celebration that they will continue to build the One Detroit movement to win $15 an hour, fighting for airport, arena, fast food and other workers in the city.

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