32BJ of SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Eugenio H. Villasante 646 285 1087
Julie Karant: 646-584-9001
Maia Davis 201-396-4444
THOUSANDS OF PROPERTY SERVICE WORKERS RALLY FOR GOOD JOBS
- Philadelphia Cleaners Vote to Authorize Strike -
- Rep. Brady Joins Rally; Property Service Workers Rally in 21 Other Cities Across the Country -
Philadelphia, PA – Thousands of property service workers from Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, the Washington, D.C.-area, Connecticut and Delaware, rallied downtown today to call for a fair contract in Philadelphia. They were joined by Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) and President of the Service Employees International Union, Mary Kay Henry. Contract negotiations are underway for more than 2,600 building cleaners in Philadelphia, who are fighting for a fair wage increase and secure benefits.
Following the rally, the Philadelphia property service workers voted to give their bargaining committee the power to call for a strike, if necessary. A strike, if one occurs, could affect more than 100 buildings, including Liberty Tower, Comcast Center and Commerce Square. The current contract expires at 12:01 a.m. on October 16, 2011.
“Today’s strike vote shows we’re determined to keep our city a place that working families can afford to call home,” said Wayne MacManiman, Mid-Atlantic Director for 32BJ. “Our members are determined to protect their good jobs, which are critical to their families, their communities, and to the thousands of tenants who depend on these workers’ services.”
Negotiations began on September 8th between 32BJ, the city’s largest private-sector union, and leaders of Building Operators Labor Relations, Inc. (BOLR), an organization representing Philadelphia’s major commercial office building owners, managers, and cleaning companies.
“The real estate industry in Philadelphia surely has the money to keep the benefits that keep our children healthy,” said Angel Castro, a cleaner in Center City who has three children. “I’ve got two kids in college, a mortgage to pay, groceries to buy. I’m struggling like many people these days.”
Philadelphia and the Washington, D.C. area are the first of several cities where contract negotiations will occur this fall. Altogether, 60,000 commercial members from Northern Virginia to Connecticut and Philadelphia to Pittsburgh are united in a campaign to secure new contracts that protect good jobs.
“Our city, our state, and our country need for working people to get the fair pay and decent benefits they deserve,” Congressman Bob Brady (D-Pa.) said. “A win for commercial office cleaners in this contract fight will be a win for all of us.”
“At a time when American workers are under attack, 32BJ members are standing together for the good jobs our communities and our country needs,” said Mike Fishman, President of 32BJ, the nation’s largest union of property service workers. “Not just here in Philadelphia, but in twenty two cities across the country today.”
“The 2,600 property service workers here in Philadelphia who are bargaining to keep good jobs alive are not in this fight alone,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “Across the country, more than 150,000 janitors over the next year will be sitting across the table from their employer—bargaining contracts to defend good jobs and rebuild the middle class.”
With more than 120,000 members in eight states, including 7,000 in Philadelphia, 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.