SEIU Local 1, Cleveland Orchestra Reach $15 Hour Wage Agreement

CLEVELAND – By an overwhelming margin, 20 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 facilities workers, including building engineers, groundskeepers, hall staff, door staff, and cleaning staff, ratified a strong new union contract with the Musical Arts Association, the non-profit organization that runs the operations of the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra. The agreement guarantees wage increases for all employees each year, with every worker making at least $15.10 per hour beginning January 1st, 2021.

"This contract is a victory for the people of the city of Cleveland,” says Pete Wieneke, Local 1 Lead Building Engineer at Severance Hall. “It's proof that when working people across economic and racial backgrounds come together in solidarity, we can build the relationships that create shared prosperity. We hope other employers and business leaders in the area will follow the example set by The Cleveland Orchestra.”

With their contracts beginning to expire on March 31st, 2019, 1,650 Local 1 Cleveland janitors are coming together to win good jobs that will benefit communities in every zip code of our city. Through their campaign for “One Cleveland,” they will be fighting for wages of at least $15 along with other standards as a way to make sure all Clevelanders benefit from the city’s booming redevelopment, made possible by millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Statewide, more than 2,200 SEIU Local 1 members in Akron, Columbus, and Cincinnati will negotiate contracts before the end of the year.

Janitors hope The Cleveland Orchestra agreement will help set the tone for these negotiations. Now entering its second century in operation, the orchestra has shown strong civic leadership through its inclusive, whole-city practices. These include its far-reaching education and community programs as well as its labor practices, which accord dignity and union rights for all, whether they work with a cello or a broom. The agreement with facilities workers comes on the heels of the December 2018 agreement with Local 4 of the American Federation of Musicians.  

The facilities worker three-year union contract is retroactive to January 1st, 2019. The agreement also continues current retirement and healthcare benefits. Throughout the country, 134,000 SEIU janitors will be standing together to negotiate new union contracts over the next two years.

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