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Airport janitors demand new union

May 16, 2013

CHICAGO — Chicago O'Hare Airport janitors spent much of the last year battling Mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to award a five-year janitorial contract to a non-union cleaning company, United Maintenance, which has resulted in approximately 300 layoffs of union janitors, according to In These Times.

But United Maintenance may not be non-union for long: On Tuesday, it was announced that 70 percent of the new employees at United Maintenance have signed cards in favor of joining SEIU Local 1, which is the same union that represented the laid-off janitors, the article stated.

According to the article, the new contractor has not only refused to rehire all but a small minority of the 300 unionized workers employed by its predecessor, Scrub Inc., but has also offered much poorer pay and benefits.

"$11.90 per hour isn't enough to pay the bills and raise a family," said Matthew Bledson, a janitor who began working at O'Hare when United Maintenance came in.

The union's demand for direct recognition by United Maintenance is an attempt to avoid a traditional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election, which unions say is "an arduous process that often allows employers to destroy organizing drives in their early stages," the article noted.

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