Fairfield Co. Janitors Still Involved in Negotiations; Rally this PM
Deal includes fair wage increase & protects health benefits for 2,400 janitors
HARTFORD, Conn. — This morning, a bargaining committee representing over 2,400 janitors in Hartford and New Haven Counties and surrounding communities reached a tentative agreement with a group of cleaning contractors calling itself the Connecticut Cleaning Contractors Association. The four-year contract—subject to ratification – includes incremental wage increases totaling $2.00 an hour in Hartford and the suburbs, and $2.10 in New Haven, and surrounding communities, while protecting the members’ health benefits, sick days and training fund, and improving the retirement fund where applicable.
“We are thrilled to have reached an agreement that’s good for workers and good for our communities in Hartford and New Haven,” said Juan Hernandez, 32BJ Vice-President and head of the union in Connecticut. “This contract will give our commercial cleaners a fair wage increase, maintain their high quality, employer-paid benefits, and make a first step toward equalizing pay between the city of Hartford and New Haven. This is also a victory for all working people. When we make fundamental service jobs better, we show that together we can change lives and lift families out of poverty and into the middle class.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, who attended the opening of bargaining and encouraged a fair deal, also approved. “This contract is a victory not only for these hardworking cleaners, but all the residents of Hartford. These cleaners are our neighbors, and this hard fought contract will benefit them and their families as well as the broader Hartford community. Everyone benefits from a strong workforce, and these workers contribute a great deal to their employers and the City of Hartford.”
Negotiations between 32BJ SEIU and the contractors began on November 13 and progressed slowly for weeks. Janitors then met on December 14 in Hartford, New Haven and Stamford for votes that authorized the bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary. The looming strike could have affected 170 buildings in Hartford, New Haven and other towns. Ratification meetings are scheduled for Saturday at 11 AM in Hartford and New Haven.
Meanwhile, negotiations continue on another contract that covers Fairfield County and the lower Hudson Valley, New York. Cleaners will rally this afternoon in Stamford with allies, elected officials and supporters at 4:30 PM in the park near 695 East Main Street, Stamford.
Union members who came to the final Hartford negotiations expressed relief. “I work hard to support my kids and give them a better life,” said Martha Duque, a Hartford County mother of three who cleans at the New Britain Court House and serves on the bargaining committee. “These are the jobs that support families and communities all over Connecticut. That’s why a good contract is important for everyone.”
Members of 32BJ in the Connecticut District clean and maintain commercial office buildings, state and municipal buildings, university properties and public schools. In Hartford County, these properties include Aetna and Travelers Insurance, United Technologies, the University of Connecticut, and many state and municipal buildings. Properties cleaned in New Haven include the New Haven public schools, the Connecticut Financial Center, the Knights of Columbus, Century Tower, the city courts, and City Hall. The Connecticut settlement is one in of a series covering over 75,000 janitors on the East Coast that have been taking place this fall.
With 175,000 members in 11 states–including 4,500 in Connecticut–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.