Labor organizers rally at UW Tacoma to support higher wages for janitors

Staff writerMay 15, 2014 

Labor organizers gathered Thursday at the University of Washington to support better wages for contract cleaning crew members at the school.

JOHN GILLIE — The News Tribune

About three dozen labor organizers and sympathizers demonstrated Thursday in a lunchtime rally at the University of Washington Tacoma to show support for improved wages and working conditions for janitors at the university.

Those janitors, who work for contractor SMS Cleaning, reportedly make starting wages of $9.45 an hour and minimal benefits.

The Service Employees International Union as part of a broader "Good Jobs Tacoma" campaign wants those workers' wages raised and benefits awarded.

The janitorial contract at the UWT expires later this year. The SEIU wants the university to give extra credit to firms who pay higher wages and benefits in deciding which bidding firm is awarded the new contract.

The labor leaders are also targeting the City of Tacoma, which recently replaced a prior contractor with SMS. That previous firm paid workers higher wages, the union claimed. SMS is a minority-owned business.

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