by Paul Griffin
Western Pennsylvania Commercial Office Cleaner
We fought back and we won! Commercial office cleaners in Pittsburgh and the suburbs have a strong contract! As a cleaner for the past 29 years and a member of the bargaining team, I am extremely proud. Over the past seven weeks, I’ve seen my brothers and sisters come out in record numbers in all types of weather to rally, leaflet and vote to protect our good jobs. Because of our work, more than 1,000 hardworking janitors in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County will continue making a family-sustaining wage and have affordable healthcare. That’s good news.
Our livelihoods were on the line. The Managers, Owners and Contractors Association (MOCA) was hardly offering a wage increase and wanted us to pay for our healthcare. That’s not right. MOCA’s proposals would’ve taken us backwards. But, we stood together and pushed back. We were able to get the good contract that we deserve.
After living in Pittsburgh my entire life, I’ve seen the good jobs leave and go overseas or shut down. People lost their jobs and couldn’t afford to support their families. That devastation left many communities and families shattered. But we are standing up and fighting back. With our new contract, we can make sure we don’t see the same happen in our communities. We have increases in our wages that will allow us to support our families, local businesses, churches, schools, and charities.
I was fortunate to get this good job right after the 1985 lockout when janitors stood their ground and fought back when employers tried to slash their wages and hours. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. It’s because of them that we have good jobs. I fight because I want young people 20 years from now to be able to call these good jobs too. I want them to be able to raise families and maintain their communities. I want them to have it better, not worse, than we have today. I want them to have the opportunity to continue the legacy that was started decades ago.
Now that we’ve won, the battle moves across the state to the Philadelphia suburbs. We have to stand with our brothers and sisters there and across 32BJ who will be at the bargaining table soon. Like us, they are working to Raise America with good jobs. Let’s remember, one union, one fight!