Missouri Secretary of State and U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander joined area janitors Saturday to help kick off their campaign for higher wages.
Members of SEIU Local 1, a union that represents 50,000 working people across the Midwest and nearly 4,000 in Kansas City, say that while downtown Kansas City is experiencing growth, the working people who clean it are struggling to get by.
Kander told media and local union members that the average janitor in the metro makes $1295 a month, which is well below the poverty line in Kansas City.
For Richard Franklin, who works as a janitor, making a livable wage is about keeping his 10-year-old son safe.
“We want to level the playing field," Franklin said. "That way our youth wouldn’t have to be living in dangerous neighborhoods, have to face violence and drugs and all these bad things that are going on the neighborhoods, and most parents are too distracted with trying to work, and pay bills and put food on the table, they can’t keep their kids safe from the influence."
Kander said that anyone working full-time in America should be able to provide for their families.
"It's real simple to me. This is not a group of people looking for a handout," Kander said. "They're looking for a level playing field."
He said the idea that people in his hometown are working full-time jobs and can't make ends meet hits a personal note for him, and although he acknowledged that raising wages for workers would be a difficult process, he said it was an attainable goal.