Hartford, CT – The Nebraska-based cleaning company brought in by The Hartford Courant to clean the newspaper’s offices has been hit with a formal complaint from the federal labor board for its treatment both of the longtime cleaning workers kicked out of their jobs at its Capitol City headquarters, and the workers hired to replace them.
The National Labor Relations Board has filed a formal complaint against Pressroom Cleaners Inc., for failing to hire the eight cleaners at the Hartford Courant offices and for failing to bargain fairly with the workers’ union, 32BJ SEIU, when the company was brought in as the new cleaning contractor in December. The Complaint also accuses Pressroom Cleaners of illegally threatening the workers it did hire that they would be fired if they tried to unionize.
As a remedy, the federal labor board will seek an order requiring Pressroom Cleaners to reinstate the eight cleaners with back pay dating back to December 10th when the Courant terminated its long-time contract with a unionized local cleaning company, Capitol Cleaning.
In addition to seeking reinstatement and back pay for the former Capitol Cleaning workers, the NLRB is also seeking restoration of wages and benefits to the levels paid by Capitol Cleaning, and an order requiring Pressroom to pay its current workforce the difference between what Capitol Cleaning was paying and what Pressroom has been paying since taking over.
Kurt Westby, Director of 32BJ SEIU in Connecticut, said the fight is far from over and that the Hartford Courant needs to live up to its social contract with the community by protecting the jobs of workers who have served for decades. If no settlement is reached, the case is scheduled to go to hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on July 10th.
“The Hartford Courant, which threw these workers to the wolves six months ago, could make these workers whole again by doing the responsible, civic thing,” Westby said. “It could direct its contractor to stop dragging its feet and settle this case. Pressroom should immediately reinstate these workers back to their jobs. These cleaners worked hard for decades keeping the building of this major newspaper well-maintained, sanitary and safe.”
Hartford Court of Common Council Member David MacDonald (D) said Pressroom Cleaners has behaved abominably towards workers in the city.
“This NLRB complaint only confirms what we’ve come to know about Pressroom Cleaners since they put local residents out of work six months ago,” Councilman MacDonald said. “This contractor is showing itself to be a law-breaker. It is a shame that Pressroom Cleaners has put off doing the right thing until facing federal labor charges. Now is the time to hold this Omaha, Nebraska contractor accountable.”
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.