City Colleges of Chicago workers on the picket lines

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Clerical and technical staff at the City Colleges of Chicago and their supporters rally outside of Harold Washington College after going on strike on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Chanting “Enough is enough!” striking clerical workers at City Colleges of Chicago rallied downtown Wednesday and demanded management do the “moral thing” by giving them a “fair” contract.

“We’re not going to take not having a fair contract any longer!” said Delores Withers, president of the Federation of College Clerical and Technical Personnel, the union representing the striking workers. “We deserve a livable wage and respect!”

About 100 people, including union supporters not on strike, gathered outside the City Colleges’ district office at 180 N. Wabash Ave.

“We deserve fair pay,” said Vanessa Johnson, 51, who works in the bursar’s office at Harold Washington College and makes about $20 an hour after 12 years with the city colleges. “I was disgusted when I found out some of the part-timers don’t even make minimum wage. We want to be respected and appreciated.”

Striking charter school teachers on Thursday afternoon plan to join in solidarity with striking City Colleges workers at Harold Washington College, at 30 E. Lake St., according to a statement Wednesday night from the Chicago Teachers Union.

Besides wages, several workers said they are concerned that vacant positions at City Colleges aren’t being filled, meaning employees are asked to take on extra work.

“So you have people doing the job of two people,” Sergio Cueto, a City Colleges financial aid adviser.

About 450 full- and part-time workers have been without a contract for almost three years. They hit the picket lines Wednesday morning.

C​ity Colleges employs more than 4,000 faculty and staff and has more than 80,000 students. It operates seven colleges and five satellite sites.

“City Colleges values our faculty and staff who dedicate themselves to providing our students with the high-quality education they deserve,” City Colleges spokeswoman Katheryn Hayes said in a statement.

“City Colleges is committed to reaching a contract that recognizes the work of our clerical and technical staff.  In the meantime, we will do all that we can to minimize the impact of a strike on our students.”

RELATED: City Colleges staff set strike date: ‘We’re not going to take it anymore’

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