Hartford, CT— Building cleaners at Connecticut’s largest newspaper rallied Wednesday to protest their expected job loss if the paper terminates its long-time contract with a unionized cleaning company.
“These cleaners have worked hard to keep the building of this major newspaper well-maintained, sanitary and safe,” said Wojciech Pirog of 32BJ SEIU, which represents the workers. “They deserve to keep their jobs, and not be thrown out on the street.”
The workers learned recently that the Hartford Courant could end its contract with Capitol Cleaning as early as October 1, which would throw the building’s eight cleaners out of work. Some of these men and women have been at the building more than 20 years.
The noon rally on Flower Street, across from the Hartford Courant’s parking lot, drew workers and supporters from around the area. The workers said they have reached out to the Courant to apply to continue working under any new contractor. The company has not responded to their requests.
Kurt Westby, Connecticut State Director for SEIU 32BJ, said in a statement that it is significant all of the workers are full-time with health benefits and a retirement plan. “These are good jobs that have given these workers and their families a toehold in the middle-class,” Westby said. “Hartford needs its employers to help in creating more good jobs, not destroying them. We call on the Courant to retain Capitol Cleaning, and not throw hard-working members of our community out on the street.”
Epifania DeJesus, who has worked cleaning the Courant building for 16 years said her husband suffered a stroke a few years ago and now they both depend on her health insurance and income. She learned recently that she might lose her job as early as Friday: “I’m stressed out because I think, ‘What am I going to do?’”
With more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, D.C., including 4,500 in Connecticut, 32BJ SEIU is the largest union of property service workers in the country.