Janitors will introduce shareholder’s proposal, asking for “no confidence” vote to their board
(New York, NY) Amidst allegations against Deutsche Bank of misleading investors about “green” investments, janitors who say the company is also disregarding its Responsible Contractor policy by working with an anti-union cleaning contractor in Florida, delivered “pink slips” to company headquarters in New York and Miami, calling on the entire board to follow their CEO’s lead and resign.
“Deutsche Bank shouldn’t “greenwash” their investments, just like they shouldn’t whitewash the mistreatment of janitors in their buildings,” said Jaime Contreras, Executive Vice President of 32BJ SEIU, the union representing over 175,000 property service workers. “They continue to hire an irresponsible contractor that pays workers poverty wages with no benefits, as well as disrespects their right to organize.”
Following the action, on June 9th, the janitors will also introduce a shareholder’s proposal during their annual meeting, calling for a vote of “no confidence” to the Supervisory Board of DWS Group, Deutsche Bank’s subsidiary.
“I spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital with the coronavirus,” said Esperanza Jimenez a former janitor at a DWS building in Miami. “I was worried about my bills, because it doesn’t matter if you’re sick or not, you still have to pay them. When I left the hospital, I was still getting these horrible muscular pains all over my body and terrible headaches, but I couldn’t miss any work because they’re not going to pay me for my days off.”
DWS Group’s cleaning contractor in several of its office complexes in South Florida, including Esperanza’s former building, is Coastal Building Maintenance (CBM). CBM has threatened and intimidated janitors who participated in union activity, failed to provide janitors with personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies at the beginning of the pandemic, surveilled janitors during a labor strike, and required janitors to work off-the-clock at an office building in Miami-Dade.
DWS Group maintains a Responsible Contractor Policy (RCP) that states it supports fair wages and benefits, and neutrality toward any union organizing efforts. Despite this, DWS Group has ignored evidence from Local 32BJ SEIU (Service Employees International Union), that the company may be violating its own policy.
“I take pride in my job, but CBM has not given me the tools to do a thorough cleaning of the bathrooms,” said Maria Coe, a CBM janitor. “There aren’t enough cleaning supplies, and I have to rush to finish my work. In addition, there is a lot of disrespect on the job. When I’ve complained about the lack of safety on the job, I have been told that I can always quit.”
The workers’ shareholder proposal comes on the heels of federal agents raiding DWS Group’s headquarters in Frankfurt (Germany) as part of an investigation into allegations that the company has greenwashed its environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) credentials.
On May 31st, law enforcement raided DWS Group’s Frankfurt headquarters as part of an investigation into these allegations. DWS Group’s CEO Asoka Woehrmann will resign from office at the end of the annual general meeting. Union janitors have raised questions about whether or not DWS Group investors are aware of the potential inconsistency between the company’s contracting standards in South Florida, compared to its official responsible contractor policy.
Nearly 1,000 janitors in South Florida Miami recently won a union and a collective bargaining agreement that covers luxury South Florida office buildings, which includes wage increases, paid time off, and other job protections. Contractors that represent the majority of the market have signed onto the collective bargaining agreement, but DWS Group has chosen a contractor who has not signed onto the majority standard.
The janitors are members of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, the largest property service workers’ union in the United States. The janitors have been organizing under the “Justice for Janitors” campaign in South Florida since 2019. For decades, the campaign has raised wages and benefits for hundreds of thousands of janitors across the United States.
With over 175,000 members in 12 states and Washington D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.