Deal includes fair wage increase & protects health benefits for 2,400 janitors; Stamford bargaining continues
HARTFORD, Conn. — At meetings today in Hartford, New Haven, and New Britain, hundreds of commercial building cleaners unanimously voted to approve a new union contract, thereby averting a strike in the new year. The vote ratifies a tentative agreement reached on Tuesday between the cleaners’ union, 32BJ, and a group of cleaning contractors calling itself the Connecticut Cleaning Contractors Association. The agreement covers 2,400 cleaners at over 80% of the large commercial properties in Hartford and New Haven counties, plus surrounding towns such as New London.
“I am very proud of the work your bargaining committee did to negotiate a contract that will increase wages, protect our benefits, and improve our workplace,” said Juan Hernandez at the packed ratification vote held in the Hartford Hilton this morning. “Over the course of the four years this agreement covers, wages will raise by $2.00 an hour in Harford and its suburbs, and by $2.10 in New Haven, which will help all of our families and communities.”
“For me, the most important thing is that this agreement protects our employer-paid health insurance,” Hartford cleaner and bargaining committee member Mara Morales told the crowd. “Families like ours simply can’t afford huge premiums, and we need to stay healthy to perform our demanding job.”
“Brothers and sisters, we have an agreement with a wage increase that helps us stay ahead of inflation and move forward,” UConn cleaner and bargaining committee member Ciro Gutierrez said at the meeting. “We should be proud of what we have achieved as members of 32BJ, standing and fighting together as one.”
Negotiations between 32BJ SEIU and the contractors began on November 13 and progressed slowly for weeks. Janitors then met on December 14 in Hartford, New Haven and Stamford for votes that authorized the bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary.
The Hartford-New Haven settlement is one in of a series covering over 75,000 janitors on the East Coast that 32BJ has negotiated with cleaning contractors over this fall. All have now been tentatively settled or ratified but one, an agreement covering 3,000 cleaners in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and the lower Hudson Valley, New York. The bargaining committee and the Westchester/Fairfield County Cleaning Contractors Association will meet on Monday, December23 for the final scheduled negotiation session before expiration and a looming strike.
Members of 32BJ in the Connecticut District clean and maintain commercial office buildings, state and municipal buildings, university properties and public schools. In Hartford County, these properties include Aetna and Travelers Insurance, United Technologies, the University of Connecticut, and many state and municipal buildings. Properties cleaned in New Haven include the New Haven public schools, the Connecticut Financial Center, the Knights of Columbus, Century Tower, the city courts, and City Hall.
With 175,000 members in 11 states–including 4,500 in Connecticut–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country