Hartford, CT – Hartford area office cleaners have ratified a new contract that averted a strike which potentially could have affected 125 corporate, government and university buildings in the city and its suburbs. Members voted unanimously over the weekend to approve an agreement that preserves healthcare coverage and raises wages over the four years by 10 percent. A separate contract for New Haven members that would raise their wages 13 percent over four years is scheduled for a ratification vote on January 21.
“This is a fair agreement with modest wage increases that will help the 1,600 building cleaners in the Hartford area continue to move out of poverty and have a chance at the American Dream,” said Kurt Westby, Connecticut State Director for 32BJ SEIU and chief negotiator for the union on this contract. “Our members are struggling to meet essential expenses for housing, heating bills, food and transportation. This contract will help them to meet those expenses, support their families, and contribute to the growth of Connecticut’s economy.”
32BJ represents a total of 2,000 building cleaners in the Hartford and New Haven areas. They clean nearly 150 buildings including some of Connecticut’s most important corporate centers and landmark buildings such as the State Capitol, Travelers’ Tower and Wesleyan University. In New Haven, the list includes City Hall, Long Wharf Maritime Center, and One Century Tower.
Talks between the union and the Hartford Area Cleaning Contractors Association, which represents cleaning companies in both Hartford and New Haven, had begun in mid-November and concluded on the night of December 28th, barely three days before expiration. A breakthrough came after several leading elected officials urged both sides to find common ground and reach an agreement that was fair to workers. They were: Governor Dannel Malloy, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, and U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro and John Larson. Other elected officials who had taken a public stand in support of the workers during the course of negotiations included: State Senator John Fonfara of Hartford, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, New Britain Mayor Tim O’Brien, and Hartford City Council Members Larry Deutsch, Luis Cotto and Cynthia Jennings.
With more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, D.C., including 4,500 in Connecticut, 32BJ SEIU is the largest union of property service workers in the country.