By Paul Kurtz

By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Contract negotiations have begun between Philadelphia building owners and contractors, and the union representing nearly three thousand workers who maintain those buildings throughout the city.

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Dozens of Service Employees International Union 32BJ members fired a shot across the bow with a rally to signal the start of contract talks.

The two sides are coming to the end of a four year deal that included a signing bonus, a salary increase of 6.7 percent and improved health benefits.

Gabe Morgan, 32BJ Vice President contends the economy has greatly improved since 2011.

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“You see cranes everywhere, Center City is booming and we hope that the building owners will respond to that economic growth making sure that the people who maintain the buildings have their own small piece of that.”

Morgan says neither side is ready to talk money yet. Currently they earn between 15 and 17 and a half dollars an hour. The contract expires October 15th.

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these workers are janitors, engineers, porters, maintenance owrkes and elvator operators. The group representing the building owners is Building Operators Labor Relations.