-cleaners who maintain wealthy pharmaceutical companies demanding fair wage increase with new deal-
King of Prussia, PA – Negotiations opened Wednesday afternoon for nearly 1,800 cleaners- 32BJ SEIU members – with representatives of commercial cleaning contractors. The cleaners are bargaining at a time where analysts report commercial real estate is on the brink of expansion.
Suburban cleaners have been working over the years to change low-wage poverty jobs into good family-sustaining jobs. These men and women first organized in 2005. At that time, they were earning the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour with no meaningful benefits. Since that time, the majority immigrant workforce has earned solid wage increases, employer paid healthcare and a voice on the job.
“This union job has allowed me to make some strides, but it’s still not enough. I work two jobs to make ends meet. We clean for some of world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. We aren’t asking for a handout, just enough to make sure we can take care of our families,” said Marta Cruz, a 32BJ SEIU cleaner.
Commercial cleaners work at 150 prominent locations across Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware Counties: Radnor Corporate Center, Mercy Health System, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck US Commercial Headquarters, and Unisys World Headquarters. The cleaners hope they will be able to get a fair agreement that will allow them to continue supporting themselves and their families.
“While commercial real estate in the suburban market is doing well, the workers who clean and maintain the facilities of these billion-dollar companies are struggling to make ends meet. These hardworking men and women have families and communities that rely on them. They have worked over the years to make these jobs into family-sustaining jobs, but the wages have to increase with the cost of living. These cleaners need an agreement that will allow them to continue working towards the middle class,” said Daisy Cruz, 32BJ Mid-Atlantic District Leader.
Suburban 32BJ cleaners earn $14.30 an hour, with employer paid healthcare, and access to the legal fund.
The current agreement expires 11:59 p.m. December 15.
With 175,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 22,000 in Pennsylvania, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.