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Six clergy arrested at Market Tower protest

May 17, 2007

Six Midwest clergy were arrested today at Market Tower downtown for protesting what they said was resistance from an Indianapolis company to increasing compensation for janitors.

The group, called Indianapolis Clergy Committee, led by the Rev. Darren Cushman-Wood, pastor of Speedway United Methodist Church, said Executive Management Services would not take part in a process it is organizing across the Midwest that would boost minimum standards for janitor pay, access to health care and working hours.

Other regional cleaning companies are participating in the process, according to the clergy group.

Janitors in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus are seldom paid more than $64 a day and have virtually no benefits, the group said.

Executive Management Services has intimidated janitors who support a union, Indianapolis Clergy said.

A lawyer speaking on behalf of the company said it offers a competitive wage and benefits package.

Both full- and part-time workers start at $7.50 an hour, and full-time workers receive vacation, paid holidays and health benefits, said Dave Swider, who heads the labor and employment practice group at Bose McKinney & Evans.

If the company offered compensation that was very much more lucrative, the company would be out of business because its costs would be too high to compete with other janitorial firms, Swider said.

The Service International Employees Union and clergy group want the company to sign an agreement that, among other points, would prevent the company from saying or doing anything to create a negative impression about voting for union representation, he said.

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