Washington, D.C. –32BJ SEIU today announced their endorsement of Calvin Hawkins, Tom Dernoga, Ed Burroughs, Victor Ramirez, Eric Olson, Jolene Ivey, Rodney Colvin Streeter, Walakewon “Wala” Blegay and Mel Franklin for Prince George’s County Council, on behalf of over 175,000 janitors, security officers and airport workers, including over 10,000 in Maryland.
32BJ’s essential workers cited candidates’ support for newly passed County Council legislation ensuring low-wage service workers have temporary job protections when their employer’s service contract is terminated, similar to laws already enacted in D.C. and Montgomery County. The Council passed the bill on Tuesday, June 7 and it is expected to be signed into law by Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
“Low-wage workers in Prince George’s County want to elect leaders who will protect workers when they lose their jobs through no fault of their own,” said Jaime Contreras, 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President. “These leaders believe that workers in the County deserve the same protections as those in D.C. and Montgomery County, especially considering it’s people of color who are acutely impacted.”
Cleaning workers and other property service workers are subject to a revolving door of employers, who were free to lay them off with no notice. The new or successor contractor is not required to retain the incumbent service workers and must quickly recruit new employees. These overwhelmingly Black and Brown workers are often 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.
In January, the law helped two dozen janitors return to work in Montgomery County when a new cleaning company replaced their employer and refused to hire them. The law allows workers the opportunity to apply to keep their jobs and without it, workers stand to lose health benefits, paid time off and face mistreatment without the protection of a union.
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, including over 21,000 in the D.C. Area and Baltimore, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.