(South Miami, FL) South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, Commissioner Bob Welsh, and faith leaders will join the cleaning staff of Sunset Place to protest the mall’s new cleaning contractor Coastal Building Maintenance (CBM)’s refusal to hire them.
One of the cleaners, Margarita Santa Cruz has been with the mall for almost ten years and prides herself in not only keeping the mall clean, but also helping the customers by giving them information and directions. She is a single mother whose daughter is starting college this year. She is devastated to think that her daughter might have to drop out of school to help pay the bills.
“This job allowed me to raise my daughter on my own,” said Margarita. “I work hard so that she can go to school and better herself. I wake up at night with chest pains, thinking that she will not be able to go to college anymore if I get fired.”
The new cleaning contractor, Coastal Building Maintenance (CBM) has a long record of labor abuses, which include 13 wage and hour claims for failure to pay overtime. Furthermore the company has a history of not hiring workers who were in a union. In 2013, approximately twenty janitors that were members of Local 2BJ lost their jobs after CBM took over a cleaning contract in Broward County and refused to hire them.
The protestors will note that taxpayers ultimately pick up the tab for bad employers who cut costs on the backs of their employees, through public assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid.
Maria Solis, who has also been with the mall for seventeen years, is a breast cancer survivor and currently undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer. “I love my job, the customers, and my co-workers. We are a family here,” said Maria. “In many ways this job has saved my life, because I had health insurance and the doctors were able to catch my breast cancer in time. Without it I would have had to rely on the government to get the care I need.”
The cleaners are union members of SEIU Local 32BJ, who have fought hard, and won, above average salaries, excellent benefits and paid sick days. While most custodial workers earn a median salary of $9.41 an hour, Sunset Place cleaners earn between $10 to $13.00 an hour. Furthermore, while the majority of custodial work doesn’t offer health insurance, Sunset Place cleaners are completely covered.
The workers and electeds will call on CBM to not discriminate against these hard-working cleaners, who have kept the mall clean for almost 20 years.
WHERE: In front of Sunset Place, corner of Sunset Road (72nd Street) and 57th Avenue
WHO: South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, Commissioner Bob Welsh, Jeanette Smith of South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, local clergy, and the cleaners of Sunset Place ***Spanish Speakers will be available***
WHAT: Press conference to protest the firing of Sunset Place mall cleaners
WHEN: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 9:30 am