Boston, MA– After weeks of protests and three rowdy visits to Governor’s Baker office, a representative of Administration informed the T janitors that they agree to meet next week to talk about the their issues with the MBTA’s layoffs plan. Representatives of the union will be meeting next Tuesday with Governor Baker’s chief of staff Steven Kadish.
The following statement can be attributed to Roxana Rivera Vice President of 32BJ SEIU:
“What riders have witnessed today at T stations across Boston is a total mess. Trash has been piling up, sticky floors have gone unmopped, and janitors have been made fully aware of the impossibility of keeping three, four stations clean with less people and in less hours. But there’s still time to turn this around and we are glad the Baker administration is willing to engage with us. We hope this meeting serves as a path to a solution.”
The meeting come after weeks of protest against the MBTA plan to cut cleaning services to the bone beginning September 1. More than 70 full-time janitorial positions have been eliminated today and many more janitors who clean the T are losing their healthcare and see their hours cut. Workers have been given the impossible task of keeping four, five stations in one workday and with less hours. This means a lot of pain for the families of the laid off workers but also for the T rides will start to see more grime-filled staircases, dirty walls, garbage-strewn stations and sticky floors all over the T stations.
MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve has argued that cuts were needed to address cost overruns in cleaning contracts, due to an overrun of $16.6 million dollars from the original contract cost. The public deserves an exact accounting of the $16.6 million in overruns that are supposedly associated with this contract.
These workers are the lowest paid workers in the MBTA system, making just $18 an hour with many not even earning additional benefits like a pension or health insurance.
In addition to the workers who are losing their jobs, dozens have been asked, sometimes with just 48 hours, to decide whether to accept a part-time job with an increase workload or lose their job.
The unprecedented MBTA cleaning cuts couldn’t have come at a worse time. As Boston continues to grow, bringing more riders into the system, fewer cleaners will be available to clean up after them.
With more than 145,000 members in 11 states, including 18,000 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, SEIU 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.