Senator Menendez and State Legislators Take Stand With Building Cleaners Calling for Fair Contract

32BJ of the Service Employees International Union

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Maia Davis:  201-396-4444

Eugenio Villasante:  212-539-2940

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

 

SENATOR MENENDEZ AND STATE LEGISLATORS TAKE STAND WITH BUILDING CLEANERS CALLING FOR FAIR CONTRACT

 - Elected Officials Speak Out Days After Building Cleaners Authorized Possible Strike; Rally Held Outside Newark Hotel Where Contract Talks Taking Place -

Newark, NJ –U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and other elected officials – including state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union) – called on employers today to pay decent wages and to protect the healthcare coverage of the 7,000 men and women who clean office buildings around the state. The brief rally, held outside the Hilton at Gateway Center in Newark during a break in contract talks inside the building, came six days after building cleaners represented by 32BJ SEIU voted to authorize a possible strike if a fair agreement is not reached.
“This is about protecting jobs and workers and building a strong middle class. New Jersey residents, businesses and visitors depend on these hardworking men and women every day to keep the buildings where we work and conduct business clean, safe and sanitary,” Menendez said. “Now they are depending on all of us to stand with them for a fair contract with decent wages and benefits.”
‪Contract talks began in October between the cleaners and employers represented by the state association of cleaning contractors. Its members include some of the biggest cleaning companies in the nation or the state such as American Building Maintenance (ABM), Allan Industries and CRS Facility Services. The building cleaners voted last week to authorize a possible strike after the employers made demands that would amount to a pay cut for workers already struggling to stay out of poverty and would threaten their health benefits. Negotiations between the two sides resumed this morning at the Hilton as the contract expiration and threat of a possible strike looms closer.

“All these workers are asking for is good jobs that enable them to live in dignity and support their families without having to rely on government assistance,” Lesniak said. “That’s in all of our interests. When workers don’t get decent wages and benefits, it drags down our economy and puts taxpayers on the hook to subsidize essential services such as healthcare.”

32BJ members clean some of New Jersey’s most prestigious office buildings including along the Hudson County waterfront, in Newark, and in cities, towns and office parks across the state. Commercial real estate in New Jersey is a $4.5 billion industry with the list of top real estate owners and major tenants including Mack Cali, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson.

“We aren’t asking for anything unreasonable or extraordinary,” said Kevin Brown, New Jersey State Director for 32BJ. “Our members are just starting to get a toehold in the middle class and want to stay there without falling back into poverty.”

Most New Jersey building cleaners represented by 32BJ earn $12 an hour. Those working in Bergen and Mercer counties earn less, $11.50 an hour. Those along the Hudson waterfront and in Newark earn $14 an hour. Most receive health benefits and paid sick and vacation days, and some receive a pension. Many of the cleaners work two or even three jobs to make ends meet.

Sindy Vargas, a mother of two young children, cobbles together an existence by working part-time at night cleaning a Parsippany office building and full-time during the day as a building cafeteria cashier.

“We work too much,” Vargas said. “We lose time with our families.”

 

With 120,000 members in eight states, including 9,000 in New Jersey, 32BJ is the largest property service union in the country and one of the fastest-growing unions in the state.
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Sen. Menendez and NJ Legislators to Call for Fair Contract for Building Cleaners

32BJ of the SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION‪‪‪

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

‪Maia Davis:   201-396-4444

Eugenio Villasante: 212-539-2940‪

MEDIA ADVISORY:

FOR:‪  Wednesday, December 21, 2011, at Noon
 

SENATOR MENENDEZ AND STATE LEGISLATORS TO STAND WITH BUILDING CLEANERS FOR A FAIR CONTRACT

‪– Elected Officials to Join Rally of Building Cleaners Outside Hotel Where Contract Talks Are Underway; Rally Comes Days After Strike Authorization Vote -

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez; State Senators Ray Lesniak (D-Union) and Ron Rice (D-Essex); and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) will join a rally of New Jersey building cleaners in Newark today to call for employers to agree to a fair contract for the 7,000 men and women who keep New Jersey office buildings clean, safe and sanitary. The brief rally will be held outside the Hilton at Gateway Center in Newark during a break in contract talks going on inside the building. Elected officials are taking a public stand six days after 2,000 building cleaners from around the state marched through downtown Newark and voted to authorize their union’s bargaining committee to call a strike if a fair agreement is not reached before the union contract expires at 12:01 a.m. on January 1st.

‪Contract talks for the cleaners began in October. But employers are making demands that would amount to a pay cut for workers already struggling to stay out of poverty and would threaten their health benefits. 32BJ members clean some of New Jersey’s most prestigious office buildings including along the Hudson County waterfront, in Newark, and in cities, towns and office parks across the state. Commercial real estate in New Jersey is a $4.5 billion industry with the list of top real estate owners and major tenants including Mack Cali, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson.

WHO: U.S. Senator Robert Menendez

State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union)

State Senator Ron Rice (D-Essex)

State Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union)

32BJ New Jersey State Director Kevin Brown

Office building cleaners from Essex and Hudson counties

WHAT: Elected officials join rally of building cleaners to call for a fair contract

WHEN: Noon to 12:30 p.m.

‪‪WHERE: Outside the Hilton at Gateway Center where contract negotiations are being held Wednesday

With more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, D.C., including 9,000 in New Jersey, 32BJ SEIU is the largest union of property service workers in the country and one of the fastest-growing unions in New Jersey.

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For more information, visit www.standwithbuildingworkers.org

Countdown to Contract Expirations

Members of our union, 32BJ SEIU, are standing together for good jobs. More than 60,000 property service workers in seven states are united in a campaign to secure new contracts that raise wage and benefit standards.

Workers in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Montgomery County, MD, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have already negotiated new agreements that protect decent pay and benefit standards.

Negotiations continue in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware with contracts expiring on New Year’s Eve (January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am).

Contract Updates for:

Delaware – Expires January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am
Fairfield County, Conn. & Hudson Valley – Expires January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am
Hartford & New Haven, Conn. – Expires January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am
New Jersey – Expires January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am
New York City – Expires January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

Contracts talks in the Philadelphia suburbs have been extended with a contract deadline on January 16, 2012 at 12:01 am.

Philadelphia Suburbs – Expires January 16, 2012 at 12:01 am

With more than 120,000 members in nine states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.

Keep Up The Pressure: Fight For Good Jobs

Check out the highlights from the big events this week!  Thousands of 32BJ members joined together to demonstrate our determination to fight for good jobs.

Pledge Your Support for Office Cleaners

Yes! I stand with 32BJ’s office cleaners in their efforts to win fair contracts that protect good jobs — and I will take action to help them win. ¡Sí! Yo estoy de lado de los limpiadores de oficinas de la 32BJ y sus esfuerzos por obtener contratos justos que protejan los buenos empleos; y participaré en actividades para ayudarlos a triunfar.

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Highlights from the New Jersey Strike Vote and Rally

Check out the photos from yesterday’s strike vote and rally. We sent the strong message that we will not let employers push back our pay, benefits and rights on the job!

Pledge Your Support for NJ Office Cleaners

Yes! I stand with 32BJ’s office cleaners in their efforts to win fair contracts that protect good jobs — and I will take action to help them win.

¡Sí! Yo estoy de lado de los limpiadores de oficinas de la 32BJ y sus esfuerzos por obtener contratos justos que protejan los buenos empleos; y participaré en actividades para ayudarlos a triunfar.

First Name *

Last Name *

City *

State/Region/Province *

SEIU Local (if applicable)

Email

By entering your email address, you are allowing us to email you.
Mobile Phone

By entering your mobile phone, you are allowing us to text message you. Standard data and message rates may apply, you can opt out of text messages at any time by texting STOP to 787-753.
LANGUAGE PREFERENCE *

New Jersey Building Cleaners Authorize Their Bargaining Committee to Call a Strike

32BJ of the Service Employees International Union

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Maia Davis:  201-396-4444

Eugenio Villasante: 212-539-2940

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NEW JERSEY BUILDING CLEANERS AUTHORIZE THEIR BARGAINING COMMITTEE TO CALL A STRIKE

Newark, NJ – New Jersey office cleaners from 10 counties gathered in Newark today to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary. Failure to reach a new contract by 12:01 a.m. on January 1st could lead to a strike by 7,000 office cleaners at more than 400 commercial office buildings around the state, including prominent properties along the Hudson waterfront and in Newark. The strike vote was followed by a march through downtown Newark.

Commercial real estate in New Jersey is a $4.5-billion industry. Its major real estate owners include highly profitable companies such as Mack-Cali, Hartz Mountain, Johnson & Johnson and Merck. Its cleaning contractors include some of the biggest in the nation and the state, including American Building Maintenance (ABM), Allan Industries and CRS Facility Services.

At the bargaining table, contractors, who are paid by the building owners, have demanded a range of givebacks that could bring financial devastation to building cleaners’ families while also harming office tenants and the building owners themselves.

Among the demands are a freeze in wages combined with a new monthly payment for health benefits. This would amount to a pay cut for workers who already commonly work two or three jobs in their daily struggle to pay for essentials such as food, housing and transportation.

New Jersey building cleaners represented by 32BJ earn $11.50 an hour in Bergen and Mercer counties. Those working along the Hudson waterfront and in Newark earn $14 an hour, and those in other parts of the state get a wage of $12 an hour. Most receive health benefits and paid sick and vacation days, and some receive a pension. But some part-time cleaners, such as Sindy Vargas of Paterson, don’t even get health benefits.

Vargas, a mother of two young children, cobbles together an existence by working part-time at night cleaning a Parsippany office building and full-time during the day as a building cafeteria cashier. Her 4-year-old son has asthma and was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur. But Vargas has only Medicaid to cover his treatment, forcing her to travel to different cities to find specialists who accept the government insurance.

“I need a full-time job [cleaning] so I don’t have to work two jobs,” Vargas said. “We work too much. We lose time with our families. We deserve health benefits.”

For more information: www.standwithbuildingworkers.org

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New Jersey Office Cleaners to Vote to Authorize Possible Strike

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

‪Maia Davis:   201-396-4444

Eugenio Villasante: 212-539-2940‪

32BJ of the SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION‪‪‪

 

MEDIA ADVISORY

FOR:‪   Thursday, December 15, 2011, at 3:30 p.m.‪‪

 

NEW JERSEY OFFICE CLEANERS TO VOTE TO AUTHORIZE POSSIBLE STRIKE

 ‪– Up to Two Thousand Cleaners to March Through Newark at Rush Hour -

Two thousand office cleaners representing 7,000 from around the state will converge upon Newark on Thursday to vote whether to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary. Contract talks for the cleaners began in October. But employers are making demands that would amount to a pay cut for workers already struggling to stay out of poverty and would threaten their health benefits. The cleaners will vote Thursday whether to authorize a strike when their contract expires in two weeks.

‪32BJ members clean some of New Jersey’s most prestigious office buildings including along the Hudson County waterfront, in Newark, and in cities, towns and office parks across the state. Commercial real estate in New Jersey is a $4.5 billion industry with the list of top real estate owners and major tenants including Mack Cali, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson.

 

MEDIA INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE IN THE COLLEGE GYM BUILDING PRIOR TO MEETING AND IMMEDIATELY AFTER MARCH AT MILITARY PARK. Media is not allowed in the meeting room during strike vote.

 

WHAT: Office cleaners from 10 counties will hold strike vote and march through downtown Newark.

Elected officials and top officers of 32BJ will address members in meeting prior to strike vote and at short outdoors rally following the march.‪

 

WHO: Up to 2,000 cleaners from the counties of : Essex, Hudson, Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Union, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth and Somerset

‪NJ AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech

32BJ President Mike Fishman

32BJ Assistant to the President Larry Engelstein

32BJ New Jersey State Director Kevin Brown

State Senator Paul Sarlo (invited)

State Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (invited)

Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco

Newark City Council Members

‪Essex County Freeholders

 

WHEN: Meeting from 3:30 p.m. to 4 or 4:15 p.m., followed by march and short rally outdoors at Military Park.

‪‪WHERE: Essex County Community College gym at University Avenue and Market Street for strike vote meeting.

March will go down Market Street to Military Park for rally.

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With more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, D.C., including 9,000 in New Jersey, 32BJ SEIU is the largest union of property service workers in the country.  

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