Protesters Block Streets For Ellis School Cleaning Crew’s Low Wages

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SHADYSIDE (KDKA) – Protesters blocked streets and chanted in Shadyside on Saturday so administrators at the Ellis School could hear their message.

The protesters blocked traffic on Fifth Avenue for several minutes outside the Ellis School while police stood by on guard.

They’re speaking out on behalf of a new cleaning crew that makes just 50 cents above minimum wage.

Alyce Toombs was one of several cleaning crew members that were let go this summer.

“There are people in here making $7.75 an hour who have families, and if you can find good in that, show me,” Toombs said.

She was making $12.85.

“I got the text message on the 17th of July,” she said. “Our last day was the 31st.”

The Ellis School brought in a new cleaning company because they said the old company wasn’t getting the job done.

“They had workers without clearances to work in a child environment and some lapses in insurance and an altercation between a couple of the workers,” Macon Finley, head of Ellis School, said.

But a local pastor said those allegations weren’t true.

“We stand with you, but right now, those workers who took your place, who are making so much less, we stand for them so they can have a livable wage,” Rev. Buena Smith Dudley, with the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, said.

Before the protest wrapped up, Dudley and a few others tried to get into the fundraising event that was taking place at the school, but they were turned away.

“We have tickets to the affair and confirmation of those tickets which are paid at $100 apiece, but we were denied entrance,” Dudley said.

Officials with the Ellis School say those protesters were turned away because the event was solely for parents and alumni. Those protesters got their money back.

The new cleaning crew was not in attendance.

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