New York – Scores of WeWork contracted cleaners, supportive office cleaners and City Council members marched in the Financial District this afternoon to tell WeWork founders Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey to hire a responsible cleaning contractor that pays fair wages that meet the industry standard.
The cleaners and their supporters marched from Fulton Center to the Charging Bull statue at Bowling Green to demand fair pay and benefits. The contractor WeWork hired to clean its offices is paying many of the janitors less than half of the industry standard.
“We’re here because we work hard but we’re not making enough to survive in New York City,” said Bolivar Coronado, a cleaner at WeWork’s offices at 120 East 23rd Street in Manhattan. “I have four kids and I make just $10 an hour and my shift is only 5 hours a night. It’s impossible for me to pay my bills and support my kids.”
New York City and State elected officials also joined the workers to march for good jobs.
“The hard working janitors at WeWork offices keep the organization running, and deserve to make enough money to support their families. I stand with these cleaners because they deserve fair pay and benefits,” said State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
“Every employer should ensure that their workers are paid a living wage, have the right to organize for better working conditions, and are treated with dignity and respect. We need businesses that invest in their workforce, not ones that exploit hard working New Yorkers for their own selfish gain, “said New York City Council Member Margaret Chin.
“WeWork claims it wants to ‘create a world where people work to make a life’ but it hired a contractor that doesn’t pay janitors a living wage and threatens to fire workers for union organizing,” said Council Member Rory I. Lancman. “That’s simply unacceptable action for a business that wants to grow in New York.”
Office cleaners up and down the East Coast also launched solidarity campaigns on Wednesday, leafletting WeWork locations in Miami, Boston and Washington DC to highlight the need for WeWork to hire a responsible contractor that pays fair wages.
To clean its swanky New York offices, WeWork has hired cleaning contractor Commercial Building Maintenance (CBM), which pays its workers as little as $10 an hour and few if any meaningful benefits.
But the hip start-up, which is reportedly valued at $10 billion by investors, is lagging behind other major renters and owners of similar office space whose cleaners make starting pay of about $18 an hour and go up to more than $23 an hour for experienced cleaners. Those cleaners, who are covered by a union contract, also get full family health care and retirement benefits.
WeWork often touts its commitment to its “community” of members but so far they haven’t recognized the contracted cleaners as part of their community. The cleaners are standing up to say that they’re not invisible because “We Work Here Too.”
They have launched a petition where tenants can show support for the cleaners at www.weworkheretoo.org
With more than 145,000 members including 70,000 in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.