A Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 janitors strike against Professional Maintenance was announced on September 24 outside the Lazarus Building in downtown Columbus, with roughly 30 union members and supporters in attendance.
SEIU Local 1 Organizing Coordinator Tyler French, from the union’s Chicago headquarters, explained that janitors were going on strike to protest their employer’s “retaliation” against collective bargaining efforts. Video from the strike announcement follows.
“When janitors in this building stood up for a better life, they were intimidated and threatened by their employer,” an SEIU flyer claimed.
SEIU Local 1 members – supported on September 24 by members of other labor unions and other leftists including illegal-immigrant union spokesman Jamal Gilcrease – are on strike to “defend their rights,” noting that they “struggle to make ends meet despite the fact that they clean the offices of some the [sic] richest companies in the city.”
In attendance were Paula Garfield and several other members of the Columbus Education Association (CEA), a local National Education Association (NEA) affiliate. Garfield, recognized as CEA’s “Outstanding Member” for her left-wing activism in 2012, was paid $73,868 by Columbus City Schools last year.
In addition to French, other Chicago-based union organizers assisted with the strike announcement, including SEIU Local 1 Communications Specialist Izabela Miltko.
Mitlko, who was paid $50,773 last year according to the union’s annual report to the U.S. Department of Labor, initially agreed to answer questions from Media Trackers before claiming she was too busy to do so.
French, paid $76,221 with money taken from SEIU members last year, explained to Media Trackers that employers’ plans to cut Columbus janitors’ hours due to Obamacare mandates were merely the “latest excuse in a long line of many that we’ve seen from corporate America” to “take money out of the middle class workers’ pocket.”
If the janitorial salaries described by SEIU Local 1 are accurate, the union takes as much as 3.3 percent of workers’ gross pay in union dues each year.
SEIU is one of few major national unions to remain supportive of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as AFL-CIO, Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and others have criticized the law in response to the Obama Administration rejecting their latest demands for exemption.
“I think the healthcare act is the latest excuse that corporations are using to try and save money,” French told Media Trackers while janitors and supporters circled in front of the Lazarus Building on Front Street.
“There will always be an excuse for corporate America to take money out of the working class’s pocket. ACA is the latest excuse in a long line of many,” French added.