Clergy resume protest at Market Tower; street closed

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A clergy group that’s trying to help a union organize an Indianapolis janitorial company planned to stage another protest at noon today in front of Market Tower downtown.

To accommodate the protest, the city closed Market Street between Monument Circle and Illinois Street for two hours. The closing prompted building manager Kevin Branch, of Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, to fire off an email alert to tenants: “Should you wish to voice your disapproval of the city allowing the disruption of commerce for these purposes, please feel free to contact the mayor’s office.”

The email, which was obtained by IBJ, included contact information for the mayor’s office.

Branch told IBJ that it’s unfair to target Colliers or building owner HDG Mansur because the dispute is between the janitors and the Indianapolis company contracted to care for the building, Executive Management Services.

“This is not our issue, yet we are being harassed and punished,” Branch said. “They’re going to block access to our building, they’re going to inconvenience our tenants, they’re going to make it more difficult to do business.”

Branch said janitors in the building start at $7.75 an hour and are eligible for health care benefits after 90 days. That’s more lucrative than a contract the Service International Employees Union signed in Cincinnati recently, he said. The contract starts at $7.05 an hour and rises to $9.80 in 2012.

Indianapolis-based HDG Mansur did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Indianapolis Clergy Committee has focused on Market Tower because it is viewed as key to helping reach a goal of having 60 percent of Indianapolis office buildings being cleaned by janitorial companies that don’t hinder workers from organizing.

Executive Management Services has said repeatedly it has not stopped organizing efforts of the Service International Employees Union.

The local clergy group is affiliated with Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago group that advocates for higher wages, benefits and improved working conditions for workers in low-wage jobs.

The local group charges that janitors are underpaid and have too few benefits.

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