Baltimore, MD – On Thursday, Mayor Pugh signed the Displaced Service Workers Protection Ordinance into law, which will provide contracted service workers with temporary job protections when their employer’s service contract is terminated.
“Low-wage workers in Baltimore are grateful for Councilwoman Sneed and President Jack Young’s leadership on this modest and commonsense measure to protect men and women who lose their jobs through no fault of their own,” said 32BJ Vice President, Jaime Contreras. “The Mayor understands that businesses and property owners will be able to compete on the quality of their services without hurting workers who could otherwise be facing hunger and homelessness.”
An example of why the bill is sorely needed, Baltimore resident and security officer, Walter Butler recently lost his job through no fault of his own when a new company, Assured Protection replaced his previous employer at 100 East Pratt Street. “Now I have to work multiple jobs and miss out on raising my son,” said Butler, a single father of two and security officer displaced by Assured Protection. “I needed that extra time to in my son’s life, to help him grow and be someone he can look up to.”
Thousands of subcontracted food service workers, cleaners, maintenance employees, and security officers in Baltimore are subject to a revolving door of contractors, who were free to lay them off with no notice. Currently, the new or successor contractor is not required to retain the incumbent service workers and must quickly recruit new employees. Workers are sometimes fired within hours after a new contractor comes in, creating instability and hardship for their children and families. The Council bill would establish a 90-day transition period during which workers would be allowed to keep their jobs.
Most subcontracted workers in Baltimore are also residents of Baltimore City, and the City has an interest in promoting access to good, stable jobs for its residents so that more Baltimoreans can become homeowners, provide for their families, save for the future, give back to their communities, and contribute taxes.
Thirteen cities, two counties and one state have already passed similar laws to protect displaced service workers: California, Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, Maryland , Providence, RI, New York, NY, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, New Haven, CT, San Francisco, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Berkeley, CA, Oakland, CA, Santa Cruz, CA, San Jose, CA, Santa Clara, CA and Westchester County, New York. At the federal level, President Obama issued an Executive Order to protect subcontracted federal government employees in 2009.
The requirements of the Ordinance are already a common practice in the industry as responsible contractors routinely retain incumbent staff to save on hiring and training, provide continuity to clients and to utilize workers’ skills and experience. As a result, displaced worker protection laws have caused no discernible negative economic impact in the jurisdictions in which they have been passed and operate.
With more than 155,000 members in 11 states, including 18,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area and Baltimore, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.