DETROIT — On June 15, national Justice for Janitors day, several hundred Detroit area janitors, members of Service Employees International Union Local 3, marched to the new downtown PricewaterhouseCoopers building to send notice to New Image, the nonunion cleaning contractor servicing the building, that they will not allow nonunion businesses to take root in the city. On their way back, the marchers were warmly greeted by many fans leaving the stadium of baseball’s first-place Detroit Tigers.

With the Master Janitorial Contract covering 1,500 employees in the Detroit metro area set to expire June 30, the rally also sent the message that workers are in no mood for concessions.

Those companies that do not yet have union workers should get ready because the union is coming, said Dana Sevakis, assistant program director for Local 3. Workers at nonunion sites are only paid $6 to $7 an hour with no benefits — way too low to make ends meet. Speaking of the need to organize the nonunion sites, Sevakis said, “The union has to keep the bottom wage high so the standards won’t fall for everyone else.”

For 19 years, Pam Owens has worked at the Millender Center in downtown Detroit. Now the Detroit district chair on Local 3’s executive board, she is ready to defend her union’s gains in the upcoming negotiations with one of the nation’s largest building service contractors, ABM, and others in the area. “Holding the line on health care” will be a key issue in the upcoming contract talks, Owens said. “We’ve struggled too long and too hard to give in,” she said. “We are not going back to poverty wages and no health care.”

LaKarroll McCray, vice president of Unite Here Local 24, Casino Division, said she and other Unite Here members joined the rally because “we’re like family.”

“When you work in a group, you have to stick together and when you’re in a union you have to give support to other unions,” she said. Gesturing toward the marchers — Black, Brown and white, with many young participants — she added, “This is the new generation. Unions are very much alive.”

Coming all the way from Toledo on a bus that also picked up members in Cleveland was SEIU member Tim Andrews. Andrews, a maintenance worker at a Toledo apartment complex, said the workers there have been in the union for two years.

Before the union came, he said, some workers would go three or more years without raises. His contract expires in 2007 and he came to Detroit because it “builds camaraderie in the union. I’m coming here to help and next year we might have to call on Detroit workers to help us in our contract fight.”