- Letter from Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) to Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, at Fort Belvoir
Washington, DC – Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) is urging Fort Belvoir federal contractor Brown & Pipkins d/b/a Ascential to avoid a strike by ensuring a fair contract is reached for approximately 70 janitors at the base. The men and women who keep the base safe and clean have authorized their union’s bargaining committee to call a strike, if necessary, in response to numerous charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board. Workers, who have also filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, allege that Brown & Pipkins owes nearly $300,000 in wages and benefits.
“It’s unacceptable for federal contractors to shortchange janitors, who are some of the most vulnerable workers in our community,” said Moran. “I support these hard-working men and women in their effort to ensure a decent living for themselves and their families.” In a letter to Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, at Fort Belvoir, Moran urged the Garrison Commander to ensure the base hires a responsible cleaning contractor that follows the law and treats workers fairly.
Since September 1, 2012, Brown & Pipkins has allegedly failed to provide janitors with the full wages owed or make full contributions to the benefit funds on their behalf as required by the federal wage determination at the site, totaling nearly $300,000. Charges also allege that the company has disciplined two workers and terminated one for protected union activity. Brown & Pipkins fired five employees on February 1, nearly all of whom were over 40 years old. In addition, Brown & Pipkins has allegedly failed to bargain in good faith with 32BJ SEIU.
“I work very hard without complaints, all I ask is for a fair chance to get my job back,” said Dionicia Gomez, who lost her only job cleaning Fort Belvoir. “It’s hard to get by as it is, but without a paycheck, I don’t know how I’ll support my family.”
Just two months ago, Escab Enterprises, a federal cleaning contractor, failed to pay nearly 300 janitors who clean and maintain the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University. Despite being required by law to pay their employees, Escab initially failed to do so on November 9th, their regularly scheduled payday. There was no dispute over whether these workers deserved to be paid. Escab finally paid janitors at Walter Reed after Navy commanders and elected officials in Maryland like Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown intervened and lent their support to the workers.
“Too many federal contractors like Brown & Pipkins try to break the law and mistreat hard-working janitors,” said 32BJ SEIU Capital Area Director, Jaime Contreras. “Nobody wants to strike, but these men and women are willing to do what’s necessary to support their families.”
With more than 125,000 members in nine states, including 17,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.