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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Contract negotiations underway for Portland-area janitors

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Wednesday, June 5, 2024   

It is the first full week of contract negotiations for janitors who clean the buildings of some of the region's biggest employers.

The janitors, represented by SEIU Local 49, work at places like the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital and the U.S. Bancorp Tower. Their current contract expires the end of this month.

Janitors were on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic and the union said it wants to make sure the essential quality of their work is recognized. Another focus is the rising cost of living.

Elena Jimenez, a janitor at Adidas, said the health benefits are helpful but she hopes the new contract will lower the cost.

"They can help us get our pay a little bit less than what we are paying right now because the cost of living is really hard right now," Jimenez explained.

The cost of living in Portland increased 22% between 2010 and 2020, with the cost of housing peaking 30% higher than the national average, according to a 2021 report. Last week, about 100 people rallied outside the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on Friday to show support for the janitors.

Renato Quintero, vice president of property services on the SEIU Local 49 executive board and a janitor at Intel, wants the companies employing union workers to understand retaining them benefits both the workers and their employers.

"To offer good jobs with good benefits will be better for the retention of the workers," Quintero contended. "Instead of spending all the amount of resources looking for new people that don't want to stay there for a long time."

For the first time, bargaining for SEIU Local 49 janitors and security officers is happening at the same time. Both contracts combined will affect nearly 2,000 workers.

Disclosure: SEIU Local 49 contributes to our fund for reporting on Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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