New York – Janitors who keep the hip coworking start-up WeWork clean and welcoming rallied in front of the company’s headquarters today to demand better pay and to say, “We work here too.”
The contracted cleaners make as little as $10 an hour with no benefits. They were joined at the rally near 222 Broadway by supportive members of 32BJ, some of whom are cleaners in the same buildings that have WeWork offices but earn more than twice what WeWork cleaners earn.
“We work hard and we just want good pay and benefits,” said Yosel Fernandez, who has cleaned WeWork offices at 349 5th Ave for a year and a half and makes $10.50 an hour. “We want good jobs and respect.”
The standard rate for New York City office cleaners, including many who work in the same buildings as WeWork cleaners, is $23.98 an hour with full family health care and retirement benefits.
The WeWork cleaners, who are employed by contractor Commercial Building Maintenance Corp (CBM), are launching a campaign to improve their jobs and their lives.
Getting the standard cleaning rate for the work he does cleaning WeWork offices at 115 West 18thStreet “would change my life,” said Saul Madera. “I have a baby coming and I need to move to a bigger place. I need to take care of my family.”
WeWork says it aims “to create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living” but many of its cleaners are struggling to survive. They are fighting back to say, we’re not invisible and we want good working conditions because We Work Here Too.
With more than 145,000 members including 70,000 in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.