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Newark–In an impressive show of solidarity, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and a contingent of other elected officials gathered together to rally behind thousands of workers seeking fair wage increases and the continuation of solid health benefits. Their pledge of support comes as bargaining begins for contracts impacting 7,000 commercial workers—members of 32BJ SEIU—who clean 500 office buildings and facilities across the state of New Jersey.
“I am proud to stand with these men and women who work hard every day to clean and maintain many of the iconic buildings we all utilize in Newark and which represent our vision to make our City a place we can all believe in,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “These cleaners deserve fair wages and health benefits so they can take care of themselves and their families.”
“I truly believe people who work for a living ought to be able to make a living,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “Winning solid contracts will improve the lives of thousands of cleaners who deserve not only a decent wage but also a decent life.”
Members of 32BJ SEIU are bargaining with representatives of commercial cleaning contractors from the commercial real estate industry. Under the current contract, wages range from $15.50 per hour to $10 per hour … which is less than the federal poverty level for a family of four. They are seeking an increase in family sustaining wages and the continuation of comprehensive health benefits.
“I work hard and take pride in my job but I have little to show for it,” said Ana Munoz, a cleaner from Lawrenceville. “I live on the brink, paycheck to paycheck. A living wage would give me financial stability and the ability to give my two sons what every child deserves, a bright future.”
“Good jobs with decent pay, solid health benefits and enough hours benefit workers, families, communities and the economy,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ Vice President and NJ State Director. “32BJ SEIU has and will continue to fight for these standards because when our members win good contracts this raises the standard across the industry so all workers benefit.”
The current contract between 32BJ and New Jersey contractors expires at 12:01 am on December 31, 2015.
About 32BJ: With 145,000 members in 11 states–including more than 10,000 in New Jersey–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.