Jersey City, NJ – The City Council on Wednesday passed an ordinance to set standard wages and benefits for security officers and janitors in buildings that receive economic development subsidies or tax abatements. The legislation would also increase existing wage and benefit standards for building workers employed by private companies for publicly funded work, such as providing janitorial or security services at city-leased buildings.
“The City Council deserves credit for taking this step to help ensure that Jersey City’s economic development subsidies have the impact intended – the creation of good jobs that stimulate Jersey City’s economy and keep the city on its upward trajectory as a great place to live, work and raise a family,” said Kevin Brown, New Jersey State Director for Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. “This is going to make a huge difference in the lives of working men and women who help to make Jersey City the great place it is today.”
The ordinance will require that at buildings that receive $1 million or more in subsidies, janitors and security officers will be paid at the same level as under any large collective bargaining agreement in Hudson County for their job category or, if no such union agreement exists in the county, a minimum of 150 percent of federal minimum wage, or $10.88 an hour.
For janitors at subsidized buildings, this will mean minimum pay of $14.15 per hour, the same as the standard wage they have achieved in the private sector, and for security officers it will mean a wage of at least $10.88 an hour that will rise if the standard in the private sector increases.
In addition, building service workers already covered by the city’s living wage law would be paid the wage set by any large collective bargaining agreement in the county for that job or, if there is no such agreement, a wage at least equal to 150 percent of the federal minimum wage. That will amount to a $3.35 raise for janitors to $14.15 an hour; a 38-cent per hour increase for security officers to $10.88 an hour until they achieve a higher rate in the private sector; and a $3.38 per hour increase for food service and clerical workers.
“This bill is going to mean a lot to security officers like me who are struggling to get by on pay barely above the minimum wage,” said Michael Thomas, a Jersey City resident who works as a security officer at a building that houses city agencies.
“After 16 years as a security officer, I make just $8 an hour,” Thomas said. “It isn’t enough to support myself and my my wife. I have to work multiple jobs including delivering pizzas, working as a building superintendent and playing music in churches. I grew up in Jersey City and want to stay here. But my pay needs to increase for me to be able to support my family.”
With 120,000 members in eight states, including 10,000 in New Jersey, 32BJ is the largest union of property service workers in the country and one of the fastest-growing unions in New Jersey.