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Deal includes fair wage increase & protects health benefits for 2,100 janitors
HARTFORD, Conn. — Just one day before a potential strike, a bargaining committee representing over 2,100 janitors in Hartford, New Haven and other Connecticut towns reached a tentative agreement with the Hartford County Cleaning Contractors Association. The four-year contract—subject to ratification – includes strong incremental wage increases and protects health benefits for office cleaners and school maintenance workers.
“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 Connecticut District Leader. “This contract will give our commercial cleaners a fair wage increase, maintains their high quality, employer-paid benefits, and increases their dedicated sick time. 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.”
“This contract is a victory not only for these hardworking cleaners, but all the residents of Hartford,” said Mayor-Elect Luke Bronin, who came to the opening of the last bargaining session to encourage contractors to strike a good deal for workers. “These cleaners are our neighbors, and the wage increases and protection of their benefits will help our community — as well as their customers, since everyone benefits from a strong, reliable, healthy and experienced workforce.”
Negotiations between 32BJ SEIU and the Hartford County Contractors Association began on November 19 and made little progress for weeks. Janitors then rallied in Hartford on December 9 and met on December 12 in New Haven and Hartford for votes that authorized the bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary. When negotiations still did not produce a contract, janitors rallied in New Haven with Mayor Toni Harp and other supporters on December 21. Finally, a deal was struck a day before the expiration of the current contract, with a strike looming that could have affected over 100 buildings in Hartford, New Haven and other towns.
“We’re relieved to have a deal on the table that will keep us working and that helps us keep up with rising costs,” said Ali Faatth, a father of two who cleans at the New Haven courthouse. “A good contract with fair wages and benefits gives me peace of mind and the ability to take care of my family.”
“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. “These are the jobs that support families and communities all over Connecticut. That’s why a good contract is important for everyone.”
32BJ office cleaners and school custodians 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, the Gold Building, 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 the final one in of a series covering over 70,000 janitors on the East Coast that took place this fall— one of the largest collective bargaining campaigns in the country.
With 145,000 members in 11 states–including more than 2,600 in Hartford County and New Haven–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.