About 25 workers rallied Thursday in front of Eli Lilly in Indianapolis. They want the company, and others around the city, to provide benefits and higher wages to contracted cleaning workers.
Paul Nappier, an organizer for a local union that represents over 600 janitors, says contract negotiations with cleaning companies start in two weeks.
Nappier says their ultimate goal is to get janitors what some call “a living wage.”
"The statistics have shown that that’s just over $15-an-hour in Indianapolis, in Marion County,” Nappier says. "We know that’s not realistic to get to in this particular contract, and so what we’re really striving for is a $13-an-hour point that gets people to the level that our public employees are now at."
Nappier says starting pay for janitors is currently $9.75 per hour.
Nappier says they also plan to fight for affordable healthcare options, and sick leave. He says there is no plan for a strike, but doesn’t rule out the possibility.
Clarence Jones came to the rally. He's worked as a custodian at Eli Lilly for five months.
Jones says he’s also been homeless for about six weeks, and sometimes sleeps on benches near the building where he works.
"I can’t help but, to...you know, work hard, and try to save up money to get my own place. I can’t help but to do that. Other people can’t help but to do that,” Jones says.
With the money he makes at Eli Lilly and one other job, Jones says he can’t afford the down payment and monthly rent for an apartment in the city.
Eli Lilly could not be reached for comment.