Janitorial workers gathered in downtown Columbus on Monday afternoon to rally for a $15 minimum wage.
Union members are gearing up for contract negotiations, where a higher minimum wage will be at the forefront of demands.
“This is our opportunity in your contract to be sure that the wage you earn reflects the dignity of your work every single day to keep this city running,” says Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown.
Janitorial workers spoke at the rally about struggling to make ends meet on low salaries. Because of their wages, some full-time janitors qualify for public assistance for housing, food and health care.
“Our skilled labor helps contribute to our city’s prosperity yet many of us can barely afford our groceries or go to the doctor when we’re sick,” says Cristal Sylla.
Sylla has worked as a janitor at 325 John McConnell Boulevard for four years. She takes the overnight shift to take care of grandchildren during the day.
“Janitors who keep Columbus clean shouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck, or stress over whether they can pay their bills on time, provide for their family or take care of their health,” Sylla says.
Brown says a higher wage would allow janitors to thrive instead of just surviving.
“When a worker can go to work, make a decent wage, a family supporting living wage that supports their kids and supports their community, that’s better for our whole city,” Brown told attendees. “A rising tide truly lifts all boats.”