–weeks before contract expiration, workers demand all cleaning contractors pay a living wage-
Pittsburgh – 32BJ SEIU cleaners will be joined by Mayor Bill Peduto, Councilwoman Deb Gross, Councilwoman Erika Strassburger, State Sen. Lindsey Williams (D -38), and City Council candidate Bobby Wilson on Thursday, October 17 at 2:30 p.m. in the Strip District at 15th and Railroad for a press conference and rally to protest the wage disparity between downtown cleaners and cleaners in the Strip District, Oakland and other East End neighborhoods. The cleaners –all 32BJ members – are currently in negotiations with their employers and seeking to close the pay gap.
The majority of the cleaners in the city’s urban submarkets are part time and clean for some of the largest tech firms in the world including Google, Apple, Argo A.I., Bosch, and Facebook. These neighborhoods are booming areas experiencing a resurgence due to the tech surge that has driven up rents downtown, the Strip District and Oakland. The cleaners hope they will be able to get a fair agreement that will allow them to continue supporting themselves and their families. The cleaners in the Strip District work part time and many earn $13.80 an hour. Cleaners within the Central Business District earn from $17.57 per hour.
Negotiations opened last month for the nearly 1,500 cleaners – 32BJ SEIU members – with representatives of the commercial cleaning contractors. While Pittsburgh is prospering, these workers want to make sure they aren’t left behind.
“We do the exact jobs as our downtown counterparts, but our pay is significantly different. The wage disparity has to stop. We clean for billion-dollar companies. The workers inside these buildings are able to do their jobs because we keep their work spaces and bathrooms tidy. We aren’t asking to become billionaires. At the end of the day, we want to be able to support our families and the businesses in our communities,” said Chad Chechak, a 32BJ cleaner.
Last month, contracted workers for Google in Pittsburgh voted to unionize in an effort to better their working conditions. These workers stand on the shoulders of Pittsburgh cleaners who, in 1985, waged battle with their employers for 18 months, resulting in a contentious lockout that served as the impetus for the Justice for Janitors movement. The cleaners’ refusal to back down paved the way for thousands of other low-wage workers including security officers, fast food workers, airport workers, homecare workers, and many more to fight for better standards. Cleaners are now working towards building a pathway towards the middle class for themselves and those who come after them.
The current agreement expires midnight October 31.
WHO: 32BJ cleaners, Mayor Bill Peduto, Councilwoman Deb Gross, Councilwoman Erika Strassburger, St. Sen. Lindsey Williams (D -38), City Council candidate Bobby Wilson, faith groups, allies
WHAT: Press conference and rally regarding wage disparity among cleaners
WHEN: Thursday, October 17, at 2:30 pm
WHERE: Strip District – Members will meet at 27th and Railroad @ 2:15pm, they will then march to 15th and Railroad for a press conference at 2:30 pm.
With 175,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 22,000 in Pennsylvania, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.