Lowell, MA– An administrative law judge has ruled that the cleaning contractor, Emerald Green Building Services, engaged in unlawful actions when it refused to hire incumbent janitors at Cross Point Towers, Lowell’s premier office building, and Nagog Park, an office park in Acton. The judge found that Emerald Green unlawfully refused to hire the incumbent workers because of their affiliation with the labor union 32BJ SEIU. As a result, the judge has ordered Emerald Green to make the workers whole for any losses in earnings and benefits and offer them jobs at the Lowell office building where they previously worked; 900 Chelmsford St in Lowell and 103 Nagog Park, Acton, MA. Current employees who have been earning less than 32BJ’s union standard wages must also receive back pay for the wage and benefits reduction per order of the judge.
The decision stems from a complaint filed by 32BJ SEIU alleging Emerald Green discriminated against 32BJ’s members because of their union affiliation and also unlawfully refused to bargain with 32BJ. The judge found merit in both allegations and noted there was strong evidence of anti-union motivation.
Last March, after years of service, in many cases decades, workers at Crosspoint were let go from their jobs after the building owner hired a new cleaning contractor, Emerald Green Cleaning who refused to hire back mostworkers represented by 32BJ. This caused severe stress to workers who depend of their wages to pay the bills and support their families. The majority of the new janitors are being paid $10.65 an hour, about $3 less per hour that what the layoff workers were earning.
The cleaners are thrilled with the judge’s ruling and are eager to get back to work. “I am happy about the judge’s decision because we can get our lives back. I’ve worked at Cross Point for years. It’s like a second home to me,” said cleaner Carmen Hernandez.
Many of the former employees are longtime office cleaners who had worked at the office buildings, some for decades. Many of these men and women who have families to support have struggled to make ends meet since they lost their jobs last summer.
The decision orders Emerald Green to offer employment to the former cleaners within 14 days and remove from its files any reference to the unlawful refusal to hire the employees. And within three days thereafter, notify them in writing that this has been done and that the refusal to hire them will not be used against them in any way.
With 145,000 members in 11 states–including more than 18,000 in Massachusetts–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.