Detroit janitors win strong new contract

"We were fighting for all of Detroit"

By an overwhelming margin, Detroit janitors voted YES to a new contract. The contract covers more than 1,450 janitors and their families, increases wages and ensures employer provided health insurance for three years.

Notably, the contract provides wage increases for both current janitors and future hires in the city and the suburbs. The historic three year agreement also adds non-discrimination language and strengthens standards for members working at the airport.

“This contract campaign has been different than the past – this campaign was about more than just our contract – it was about Raising Detroit with Good Jobs and engaging the wider community to achieve this on a long term basis,” Detroit Janitor and SEIU Local 1 Executive Board Member Pam Owens said. “We knew that our community must come first and in order to improve conditions for working people in the city of Detroit, we needed to come together, so that everyday people, not just developers and millionaires, can have a place at the table as our city moves forward. This contract shows that we deserve a place.”

Detroit janitors held a series of events, including protests, a press conference and a candlelight vigil, with record levels of turnout.

“This campaign was successful because the members took to the streets in huge numbers and stood together in solidarity,” SEIU Michigan Coordinator Jennifer Disla said. “We clearly owned the streets and we also owned the airwaves during this campaign. Both of these things showed our strength to the contractors at the table, and we would not have been as successful without this support.”

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