Deal includes fair wage increase & protects health benefits for 3,000 janitors
STAMFORD, Conn. — In a Stamford Marriott meeting room this afternoon, a union bargaining committee representing over 3,000 janitors in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and the lower Hudson Valley, New York, reached a tentative contract agreement with an industry group representing cleaning contractors and building owners, thereby averting a strike after December 31.
“We are pleased and proud to have reached a strong tentative agreement today,” said Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to the President of 32BJ SEIU and head of the union in the Hudson Valley. “This four-year deal gives 3,000 men and women a solid wage increase, maintains their high quality, employer-paid benefits, and makes important rule changes that will improve communication and respect on the job, including providing clear language on prohibiting sexual harassment.”
Friedlaender continued, “This agreement will make a real difference in the lives of our members and is reasonable for the employers in the region. Our members proudly work hard to make Fairfield County and the Hudson Valley a great place to work, study, shop, and live.”
“Our efforts here confirm that we’re more than just vacuum pushers,” New York Medical College cleaner and bargaining committee member Claudia Rodriguez said. “We are full human beings, and with this accord, we have now made our needs felt and respected.”
Negotiations between 32BJ SEIU and the contractors began on October 30 in White Plains, NY, and progressed slowly for weeks. Janitors then voted unanimously on December 12 in White Plains and on December 14 in Stamford to authorize the bargaining committee to call a strike after the December 31 contract termination if necessary. The strike could have affected any of almost 90% of the large office buildings in the region, including landmarks like the Westchester Financial Center, IBM, and Pepsi Cola in the Hudson Valley, and 1 Landmark Square, the Stamford Government Center, and Sikorsky Aircraft in Fairfield County. The settlement is the last in of a series covering over 75,000 32BJ commercial cleaners on the East Coast this fall.
With 175,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 4,500 in Hudson Valley and 5,000 in Connecticut, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.