Janitors make noise downtown in contract fight

CLEVELAND — In a spirited rally, dozens of janitors marched through lobbies of downtown buildings here last week to support union officials in difficult bargaining for a new three-year contract.

At the North Point-Jones Day Building, Stan Brooks, organizer for SEIU Local 1, gave security guards a letter to owner Anthony Cassese demanding that he stop withholding payments to the workers’ benefit fund.

“Our slogan is ‘fair pay for good economic recovery’,” said Larry Sprowls, the union steward at the building. “CEOs make 344 times the income of ordinary workers.”

The workers carried signs in English, Spanish and Polish reading, “It’s time for an economy that works for everyone.”

After picketing the building, the janitors went into the Galleria, boisterously chanting slogans, beating drums and shaking tambourines as they walked through the food court. They then proceeded to the Huntington Bank building, breaking the tomb-like silence of its cavernous lobby before being escorted out by security.

The contract for some 600 office building workers is set to expire April 30. The union is fighting an attempt by ABM, a giant cleaning contractor that controls 80 percent of the market nationwide, to freeze wages, force janitors to work part time and cut benefits.