Rockville, MD — An economist and commercial office cleaners submitted testimony at a Montgomery County Council hearing today to support passage of the Displaced Worker Protection Act (Bill 19-12), which would ensure that vulnerable, low-wage cleaning workers have some job protections when a building is sold or a new cleaning contractor is brought in. The legislation would have little to no financial impact on the cities, counties or the state, according to economist Hugh Kelly, a noted expert in real estate economics.
Cleaning workers and other property service workers in Montgomery County are now subject to a revolving door of employers, who are free to lay them off with no notice. Workers are sometimes fired within hours after a new contractor comes in, creating instability and hardship for their children and families. The Displaced Worker Protection Act would establish a 90-day transition period during which workers would be allowed to keep their jobs.
Similar legislation has been a success in many states and localities across the country – including Washington, DC, which has many of the same cleaning contractors as Maryland. San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles and the state of California have also passed displaced worker laws.
Hugh Kelly, a noted expert in real estate economics, said in his written testimony that: “Cities covered by such laws have been amongst the most robustly performing office markets over the long period of my study. They have achieved higher levels of pricing per square foot, a higher ratio of price to net income, and stronger volumes of capital flow. There was not a single instance where a senior real estate manager, owner, or investor mentioned the Displaced Worker Protection as a factor in building investment, pricing, or operations.” Kelly’s study was commissioned by 32BJ SEIU.
Jaime Contreras, 32BJ Capital Area Director, said the bill would provide order, stability, and peace of mind to a workforce characterized by low wages and a high rate of job instability. “This bill benefits businesses, tenants and workers alike while protecting vulnerable workers from losing income through no fault of their own,” Contreras said.
Nearly 5,000 members of 32BJ work and reside in Maryland, including office cleaners and private security officers who maintain and protect commercial buildings and government agencies throughout the County.
With more than 120,000 members in nine states, including 15,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.