Union protests pay disparity for school janitors

    Unionized workers of a Philadelphia School District contractor are continuing their fight against what they consider substandard wages and working conditions.

    Unionized workers of a Philadelphia School District contractor are continuing their fight against what they consider substandard wages and working conditions.

    Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) stood outside School District Headquarters trying to make their voices heard about what they consider a bad offer by Team Clean. The company has a contract for janitor work in the city high schools.

    “What’s happening is they are hiring workers in the city of Philadelphia who live here, who live in the poor communities of our city,” says Wayne MacManiman, the district supervisor for the SEIU. “If you are suppressing their wages, and keeping them low, are we doing anything to help to those who live in the city, who pay their taxes, and all that?”

    He says a strike has been approved by the over 200 workers and time is running out.

    “I would say not much longer,” says MacManiman. “There’s still room to go and talk at the table, but the answer needs to change from ‘no.’ The answer has to be something other than ‘no’ in order for us to continue making progress.”

    MacManiman says the workers are getting paid about 25 percent less than school district employees doing the same jobs and can’t afford comparable health benefits. A spokeswoman for Team Clean says they are offering a 13 percent wage increase and a no-cost health care package for the most senior workers.

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