Press Releases
December 12, 2012

Union Leaders Call on City to Rebid O’Hare Contract, Pass Ordinance to Protect Workers and Taxpayers

Just days remain before contract with United Maintenance goes into effect, jeopardizing the jobs, wages and benefits of nearly 350 janitors and window washers at O’Hare International Airport

CHICAGO--On Wednesday, labor leaders called on the City of Chicago to reconsider a contract with United Maintenance that could cost approximately 350 janitors and window washers at O’Hare Airport their jobs when it goes into effect at the end of the week.

Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez was joined by Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, Joe Pijanowski, Directing Business Representative of the International Association of Machinists Local 126, Jesse Sharkey, Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Kent, Vice President of UNITE HERE Local 1, Carl Rosen, President of UE, Susan Hurley, Director of Chicago Jobs with Justice and a number of janitors who stand to lose their jobs on Friday under the new contract.

The group called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to rebid the contract and to pass a “responsible bidder ordinance” that would set standards for contracting with private entities.

“This contract severely jeopardizes the well-being of close to 350 men and women who go to work every day to keep the world’s busiest airport clean,” said Ramirez. “These workers have done nothing wrong; yet on Friday, they will lose their jobs, their livelihoods, their health insurance, their retirement security and their dignity because of a public contract that rewards a low bidder who will cut wages, hours and benefits.”

Last month, the Executive Board of the Chicago Federation of Labor passed a resolution in support of the workers, who belong the SEIU Local 1, and calling on the city to rebid the contract and pass the ordinance to protect workers and taxpayers.

“We believe the City of Chicago and its leaders should set standards that respect workers and the dignity of work,” Ramirez added. “They should lead us in building a strong middle class around which our communities will thrive, rather than a race to the bottom.”

The ordinance, named “Good Jobs, Quality Services: Responsible Bidder in Services Contracts,” was introduced into the Chicago City Council earlier this year with 31 aldermen signed on in support. Yet it has since been stuck in the Workforce Development and Audit Committee chaired by Alderman Patrick O’Connor. The ordinance would establish responsible bidding criteria for all contractors bidding on janitorial, security and window washing contracts over $50,000 in the City of Chicago.