Janitors and allies demand local law be followed and that union jobs be restored
New York, NY – Today, contracted cleaners from Twitter’s NYC and San Francisco offices, 32BJ SEIU members, labor leaders, elected officials, and allies rallied outside Twitter HQ in Manhattan.
Cleaners at Twitter’s 245-249 West 17th St. location have had their lives being upended after Twitter canceled its contract with their employer Flagship Services with no explanation, on Dec. 19.
Under New York’s Displaced Building Service Workers Protection Act, incoming cleaning contractors must retain cleaners employed by an outgoing contractor for a transition period to prevent workers from experiencing this type of abrupt displacement. If cleaning is taking place in the building that would be a violation of the Act.
The cleaners are facing severe hardship and the cancellation of their union healthcare benefits at the end of the month.
A sister rally was held at the same time in San Francisco to demand justice for 48 cleaners (represented by SEIU Local 87) at Twitter’s San Francisco office who also lost their jobs after Twitter canceled its contract with Flagship Services there. 32BJ and Local 87 are uniting to make sure office cleaning jobs at Twitter remain good paying union jobs with quality healthcare.
“Our lives have been upended. Without this job and the union health benefits I would be thousands of dollars in debt because of medical bills. I know what it is like to work as a non-union cleaner. I can’t go back to that. We were there to keep the office clean during the pandemic. And now we have no job. It is a crisis for me and my family. I am a single mother with 4 kids,” said NYC cleaner Merita Gashi.
“We worked throughout the pandemic, and they told us that we were ‘essential,’ front-line workers, keeping the areas clean, disinfected and safe for them. In the end we were treated as disposable. They wanted to replace us with non union workers that do not have the protections and salaries that we have. In our group we have people with diseases that depend on their health insurance – people with diabetes, with heart problems – and now they don’t know what to do,” said San Francisco cleaner Juana Laura.
“In this state we have laws that protect workers in this type of situation. If there is cleaning taking place in that building these workers have a right to that work. We are going to make sure those rights – that 32BJ and office cleaners in this state worked hard to secure – are honored. These workers put their lives on the line to keep workers and the public safe throughout the pandemic and are essential to the city’s economic recovery. These union members and their families now face extreme hardship,” said 32BJ Secretary-Treasurer John Santos.
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country. 32BJ SEIU represents over 20,000 commercial office cleaners in NYC.