32BJ of the SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, December 5, 2011
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Julie Karant: 646-584-9001
Eugenio H. Villasante: 646-285-1087
COMMUNITY LEADER STANDS WITH OFFICE CLEANERS, URGES INDUSTRY LEADERS TO AVOID A STRIKe
Cleaners Announce Authorization to Strike if Necessary to Protect Good Jobs
Norristown, PA – Carmen Guerrero, of the Latino advocacy group, Alianza took a stand for 1,200 of the region’s office cleaners, calling on industry leaders to agree to a fair contract for the workers and avoid a strike. The group marched through Norristown on Saturday, directly after cleaners voted to authorize their union’s bargaining committee to call a strike, if necessary. The contract is set to expire at 12:01 AM on December 16, 2011.
“Industry should create the kind of family-sustaining jobs necessary to boost our economy,” said Carmen Guerrero with Alianza, a Latino advocacy group based in Norristown. “These hard-working cleaners have Alianza’s full support to get what they deserve to support their communities.”
Wages for part-time workers are only $10.80 per hour ($11,232.00 annually). The federal poverty line for a family of four in the United States is $22,350 annually.
“The men and women who do back-breaking work to keep our offices safe and clean deserve to be able to put food on the table and pay the bills, said Wayne MacManiman, 32BJ Mid-Atlantic Director. “Our strike vote shows we’re determined to keep the good jobs that are the lifeblood of suburban Philadelphia.”
Negotiations for a new contract covering more than 1,200 commercial office cleaners in suburban Philadelphia began on November 30th between 32BJ and leaders representing the area’s major commercial office building owners, managers, and cleaning companies such as Shellville Facility Services, Allan Industries, Inc., and Professional Building Services, Inc.
“The cost of living keeps going up but our wages don’t,” said Arnold Avila, an office cleaner and father of three working in King of Prussia. “It’s hard to keep up. We need raises so we can pay the bills.” Avila who earns just $10.60 per hour, works two jobs to make ends meet.
Several bright spots indicate that the office market in suburban Philadelphia is on the upswing. For example, leasing activity is improving, rents are on the rise, vacancy is declining, and many new office renovation projects are near completion.
More than 60,000 property service workers from Hartford, Conn., to Virginia 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 7,000 in Philadelphia, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.
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