East Haven, CT –Dozens of building cleaners and security officers today joined elected officials on the steps of Connecticut’s Capitol to demand that local and state governments require contractors that receive public money to pay their workers family-supporting wages.
“Connecticut should never be in the business of creating poverty-wage jobs,” said Kurt Westby, Connecticut Director of 32BJ, the largest union of property service workers in the country. “But that’s exactly what happens when local and state governments contract with companies that ignore community standards on wages and benefits.”
Security officers who protect state buildings in Hartford, for example, earn as little as $9 an hour, which forces many to rely on taxpayer funded healthcare and other public assistance.
“My job is to protect others,” said Wilfredo Rodriguez, who has been working as a security officer at a state building in Hartford, but has to rely on a publicly funded program for healthcare for his 13-year-old daughter. “I make sure that folks feel safe when they get to work. I take my job seriously. But sometimes I wonder: “I’ve got all these people’s back, but who’s got mine?”
The workers also called on elected officials to support SB 181, a bill introduced by State House Representative Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski (D-Southington), to ensure that the state doesn’t subsidize companies that create poverty-level jobs.
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.