(South Miami, FL) With the holiday season in full swing, community groups and faith leaders will stand with the fired cleaners of the Shops at Sunset Place at a vigil to demand that they be given their jobs back.
Many of the cleaners, all immigrant and mostly women and mothers, worked at the mall for almost 20 years. They lost their jobs after Sunset Place’s new mall owners, Grass River Property and Federal Realty, brought in an irresponsible cleaning contractor, Coastal Building Maintenance (CBM), who fired the entire cleaning staff without notice.
WHAT: Holiday Candlelight Vigil in support of the fired cleaners from the Shops at Sunset Place.
WHO: South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, SEIU 32BJ, local clergy, community groups, and the fired cleaners of Sunset Place.
***Spanish Speakers will be available***
WHERE: Shops at Sunset Place (Main Entrance on Sunset Road & SW 57 Ct.)
WHEN: Monday December 21, 2015 at 7pm
VISUALS: Vigil with lit candles, signs
BACKGROUND: The fired cleaners of Sunset Place were unionized, earned living wages, and had excellent health benefits. Just days before Christmas, they now find themselves without a steady income or health care. Pedro Navarro, a janitor for almost nine years, recently fractured his ankle and cannot get an operation because he is now uninsured. Olga Zelaya, whose thyroid cancer was under control when she was working, can no longer afford her cancer treatments.
The cleaners believe the mall’s new contractor, CBM, discriminated against them for belonging to a union, a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The company is now under investigation by the federal government.
The workers, who were represented by 32BJ SEIU, had 100% employer paid health care and livable wages. In 2014 the median wage for Miami janitors was only $9.41 per hour, Sunset Place’s cleaners earned on average between $11-13 per hour. According to some of the cleaners, CBM offers employees $8.15 to $9 an hour for custodial work.
After refusing to accept applications from the cleaners for their own jobs at Sunset Place, CBM is now offering to hire some of the workers at other locations at poverty wages, without labor protections or health insurance.
The fired cleaners and advocates will let CBM and the new mall owners know that the only just solution is for them to be given their good union jobs back at Sunset Place.