Janitors' union to protest downtown Christmas event

CINCINNATI - Dozens of Cincinnati janitors will stage a silent protest and hold large, illuminated signs during Macy's "Downtown Dazzle" event Saturday evening in downtown Cincinnati.

The janitors, who help clean many downtown buildings, are part of the Service Employees International Union. They want to focus public attention on local cleaning contractors who haven't returned to the bargaining table to negotiate a new union contract.

Negotiations began in September, but there has been little progress.

Macy's is one of several Cincinnati-based corporations whose offices are cleaned by members of the janitors' union, SEIU Local 1.

Union officials noted that janitorial companies in Cincinnati pay their full-time employees an average of $17,836 annually, which is below the poverty level of $18,106 for a family of three.

The effort is important, the janitors said, because Cincinnati's poverty rate is steadily rising and the number of people in the city relying on public assistance is increasing.

Thirteen Fortune 1000 companies are based in Greater Cincinnati, with combined profits of nearly $17 billion last year.

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