Education, Features, Labor News Briefs, National

Chicago School Janitors Protest Privatization

April 21, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

CHICAGO, Ill.—The reason Chicago public schools are so dirty is because the contractor that took over custodial services has cut the number of janitors by more than half, says the union that represents them. “I think Aramark has to get its profit margin, and I think Aramark has been cutting corners left and right on equipment and people all along,” SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff told the Chicago Sun-Times. Local 1, whose contract expired Apr. 8, is demanding that Aramark, one of the companies Mayor Rahm Emanuel hired as part of a privatization initiative in 2014, add 500 more custodians or it will go on strike. The number of janitors in the city’s schools has been reduced from 2,300 to about 1,100, Balanoff and other janitors said. A Chicago Public Schools inspection of 125 schools whose janitors were managed by Aramark last month found that 91 failed. “We ask for supplies, they tell us it’s not in our budget,” said janitor Maxine Gladney, who works at an elementary school where the custodial crew was reduced from four janitors to three. Aramark has also insisted that custodians clean with microfiber pads instead of mops, soap, and water. Read more

April 21, 2018

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