Without health benefits, the majority of GCA custodians in Rockford's school district believe they aren't getting a fair shake and they're taking matters into their own hands.
"With the labor laws the way they are, we are neutral on the whole matter. Our employees have the right to unionize," GCA's Chuck Simons said.
A right 230 GCA custodians are taking full advantage of. Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, will now also represent the workers, negotiating side by side with GCA. A union official says they'll likely request salary increases. That would challenge a binding five-year agreement between custodians and District 205.
"Especially in Rockford, we have a five-year contract with the school district. There our employees, nothing can really change in the contract. We've set an agreement with the school district, that's our customer and not a whole lot can change," Simons said.
Rockford School Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner says any new custodian demands must come from GCA leaders, not the union. Meanwhile, the service company's management says employee morale remains strong, despite their unionization.
"They're hard workers, a lot of them have put in a lot of hours to get this thing started up and they've done a decent job," Simons said.
Two-hundred plus area jobs now tacking themselves onto a union, in hopes that they'll deliver things their company currently doesn't offer.