WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation observes Veteran’s Day this weekend, nearly 300 janitors who ensure that veterans have safe and sanitary rooms at the Walter Reed National Navy Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University have not been paid for two weeks. Escab Enterprises, a federal cleaning contractor that has received over $40 million in taxpayer money since 2008, is asking employees, who earn just $13.97 per hour to come to work even as the company refuses to say when—or if—they intend to pay workers the wages they’re owed.
“It’s shameful for the government to spend millions of our tax dollars on a company that refuses to pay low-wage workers who are helping our nation’s veterans recuperate in a safe and clean environment,” said Jaime Contreras, a Vice President for 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. “The government should not allow hard-working janitors to remain unpaid and struggling to provide for their families. This bad actor and its affiliates should never be allowed to work for the government again.”
A complaint filed with the Department of Labor on behalf of the workers, charges that Escab has failed to pay over 300 workers at the Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), and the Internal Revenue Service.
Workers, who have been urged to file individual complaints with the DOL, are reluctant to strike in order to best protect the health and safety of the patients. The Union is calling on the government to withhold payment from Escab and to pay the workers directly first.
With more than 120,000 members in nine states, including 16,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.