Strike Averted: Pittsburgh Commercial Office Cleaners Reach a Tentative Agreement with Employers

Strike Averted: Pittsburgh Commercial Office Cleaners Reach a Tentative Agreement with Employers

For More Information: Traci Benjamin 215-300-0776 tbenjamin@seiu32bj.org

PITTSBURGH – Two days before the contract for more than 1,000 commercial office cleaners was set to expire, the 32BJ SEIU Bargaining Committee secured a four-year tentative agreement with the Managers, Owners and Contractors Association (MOCA). The deal, subject to ratification, includes a fair wage increase and maintains benefits at their current level.

“We are showing that employees and businesses can work together effectively to reach a fair agreement. This is a win-win for everyone. We are glad that the day-to-day operations of these buildings will continue. We are happy these hardworking men and women can continue making a family-sustaining wage which allows them to support their families and make our city’s economy stronger. These are good jobs. Together with our commercial office cleaners and newly organized security officers, we are strengthening the middle class,” said Sam Williamson, Western Pennsylvania District Leader.

Negotiations between MOCA and the 32BJ Bargaining Committee opened Wednesday, September 9. Members fought to keep their affordable healthcare and to gain modest wage increases. Over the past seven weeks, members leafleted across the city calling for a fair contract. On Tuesday, faith leaders, community supporters, City Council President Bruce Kraus and more than 250 members rallied throughout downtown before workers held a strike authorization vote in the street outside of negotiations. The vote gave the bargaining committee the authority to call for a strike if an agreement was not reached by Saturday at midnight.

“I’m glad we could reach an amicable agreement. As a longtime cleaner and resident from McKeesport, I’ve seen what happens when good jobs leave our communities. Our communities fail and families are torn apart. But, we fought to keep these family-sustaining jobs. Our win shows the power of what people can do when they work together, said Paul Griffin, a 29-year cleaner and member of the bargaining team.

The cleaners work at buildings and office parks across Pittsburgh and Allegheny County like: U.S. Steel Tower, Gateway Center, PNC Plaza and the Bayer headquarters.

“The Justice for Janitors movement started right here 30 years ago when cleaners refused to take cuts from their employers. We couldn’t afford to go backwards. What happens here sets the pace for others who are fighting for good jobs across the state and the nation,” said Gabe Morgan, 32BJ SEIU Vice President. “I’m glad MOCA was able to work with us as we seek to uplift this city and our members.”

Over the next 15 months, more than 130,000 SEIU janitors across the nation will negotiate contracts to raise the standards of their industry. More than 75,000 from Boston to Virginia are members of 32BJ SEIU. The details of the contract will be available following the member ratification vote next week. The new contract expires October 31, 2019.

With more than 145,000 members in nine states, including 22,000 in the Philadelphia area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.

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