Press Release: Council Member Grahan Rallies With Cleaning Workers As Contract Expiration and Strike Threat Loom

32BJ of the Service Employees International Union

For Immediate Release:

October 12, 2011

For More Information:

Julie Karant: 646-584-9001
Eugenio H. Villasante: 212 539 2940



Full DC City Council Supports Fair Contract for 12,000 Office Cleaners

Washington, DC – DC Council Member Jim Graham today joined a rally with cleaning workers from across the region who have authorized their union’s bargaining committee to call a strike, if necessary, when their contract expires at midnight on October 17th.  Graham is among several dozen elected officials, including every member of the DC City Council, who have signed a pledge to stand with nearly 12,000 of the region’s office cleaners in their efforts to win an agreement that includes a fair pay raise and more full-time jobs with benefits.

“I urge building owners and employers to sign a fair contract and avoid an unnecessary strike,” said Graham.

32BJ has extended the contract beyond its initial October 15th expiration to ensure that tenants in commercial office buildings and the public are not inconvenienced by a strike over the weekend, if one should occur. Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly; City and County Council Presidents from DC, Virginia, Baltimore, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County; and several clergy and community leaders are also among those who signed the pledge that is a centerpiece of an advertisement running online this week in the Washington Business Journal.

“Good jobs are essential to families, but also to the health of our communities,” the pledge reads. “Office cleaners’ efforts to win a contract that provides good jobs are part of a national effort to restore the economy and reclaim the American Dream for hardworking families. It’s what our city needs – and our conscience demands.”
Negotiations began September 8th between 32BJ and cleaning contractors for the region’s real estate industry for a new union contract covering more than 12,000 cleaners in the region. 32BJ has since rejected industry proposals that would provide only a 25-cent raise and would fail to make 1,000 part-time commercial cleaners full-time with health benefits.

Of the 12,000 cleaners, 5,000 are in Washington, D.C., nearly 4,000 in Northern Virginia, over 1,500 in Montgomery County, Md., and more than 700 in Baltimore. Their wages under the current contract range from $9 per hour for 9,600 part-time cleaners to $12.60 per hour for 2,400 full-time cleaners.

These commercial building cleaners in the Washington-area are among more than 60,000 from Hartford, Conn. to Virginia who are united in a campaign to secure new contracts that raise wage and benefit standards.

With more than 120,000 members in nine states, including 16,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.

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