“Strike, strike, strike!” chanted the crowd of nearly 100 janitors in purple T-shirts outside the south doors of Denver International Airport.
“We’re here because we need a raise,” said Anna Gabriel, one of the workers. “We’re working a night shift, and even (with) the money they give to us we can not afford the bills, rent or to put food on the table.”
Their contract with Flagship Facility Services, a city contractor based in California, expired Thursday. The bargaining committee representing the workers is asking for higher wages and has yet to agree on a new contract with Flagship.
“They don’t respect us, that’s the most important, they don’t respect the employees,” said Fred Manu, who’s worked at the airport for 17 years. “So we have to let them know that we are helping this airport.”
The janitors, who are organized under the Service Employees International Union, currently make $17 an hour. The workers voted earlier this week to go on strike, with about 99 percent voting in favor.
Workers and representatives from other local unions also attended the strike. Chris Hinds, a Denver city council member and Jessie Danielson, state senator for District 20, were also there supporting the strike.
The workers held signs that said “Hero Pay for Hero Work,” and “Janitors Keep You Safe,” as they marched around the Westin Plaza.
“Oh, it’s powerful,” said Gabriel, who’s worked at the airport for two years. “I’m happy and I think, we hope, something good is coming.”