SEIU Local 615 kicked-off its Advocacy Day on January 30, 2013 at the State House in the morning and finished the day demonstrating at New Balance offices in Lawrence, protesting the displacement of over a dozen janitors who lost their jobs due to no fault of their own on January 31st, when New Balance hired an irresponsible contractor.
Yesenia Sandoval is one of the janitors at the New Balance offices who was displaced. She spoke at the State House in support of “An Act Relative to Economic Stability for Displaced Workers” (SD611 and HD2206) sponsored by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston) and Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge.)
“I worked part-time at New Balance for the past 10 years; it was my only job since I lost my other full-time job recently,” Sandoval said. Adding, “I live with and support my mother and grandmother, and also send money home to my father in the Dominican Republic, who has been sick.”
Roberto Lora of Lawrence, MA, was also displaced. “It’s hard for me to imagine what will happen now, having lost my job at New Balance,” said Lora, who was a full-time contracted janitor at the company for the past eight years. “I’ve lost all my benefits; my family will go hungry; I won’t have enough money to support them – they depend on me.”
Every week, SEIU Local 615 is informed of buildings “flipping” from one contractor to another, and workers are at immediate risk of losing their jobs and benefits. The “Displaced Workers” bill would protect thousands of contracted property and aviation service workers from being immediately dismissed when building owners (in both private and public buildings) decide to change contractors. If passed, the legislation mandates a 90-day transition period in which janitorial, security, aviation and maintenance workers would be offered their current jobs by the new company. Union contractors already follow this procedure. The Obama Administration has implemented an Executive Order affecting Federal Buildings across the country which also mandates a 90-day transition period for service workers when there is a change in contract.
“Whenever this happens in Massachusetts, it causes real problems — obviously for the workers’ families, but also for Massachusetts taxpayers,” Chang-Diaz said. “Laying off workers for no reason related to their performance, with only a day or two’s notice, places a totally unnecessary strain on our public assistance programs.”