NEWARK, NJ — In Monday's pouring rain — hundreds of people rallied and marched through Newark. They were mostly school janitors and office cleaners -- sopping wet from stomping through puddles during the mile-long march up Broad Street.
New Jersey just passed a $15 minimum wage, but now these workers say it is not enough.
"You can’t raise a family on $30,000 per year in New Jersey," said Kevin Brown, vice president of 32BJ, the union that represents the workers.
Approximately 7,000 janitorial workers across the state are up for a new contract. Negotiations start on Oct. 17. But Monday was a primer to show they're serious about bigger wages.
"For us, Labor Day is about the bucks," said Brown.
Many marched while pushing mop buckets or vacuum cleaners.
"We need this contract for health insurance," said Michelle Lewis, a janitor at Columbia High School in South Orange.
Lewis was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.
"It’s very expensive," she said. "Without the union, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the care I needed to get better."
The union members who are up for a new contract say if they don't get what they want at the bargaining table, they will strike on Jan. 1.