Newark, NJ– In March 2022, at 150 Clove Road in Little Falls, where offices of Scarinci Hollenbeck and satellite offices of Montclair State University are located, a union cleaning contractor, Maverick, was abruptly fired and a separate, non-union company, known as Clean Team, was given a contract. Eight union workers were immediately terminated for no good reason. Theta, the real estate company that owns 150 Clove Road, specifically hired Clean Team because the company was non-union and ordered it not to hire the workers. For the past 14 months, 32BJ SEIU has been fighting to get the union workers for Maverick reinstated.
The settlement, reached on Wednesday, calls for rehiring all of the wrongfully-terminated workers. It follows months of legal proceedings and numerous union demonstrations at 150 Clove Road. The workers organized, protested and petitioned on a near-constant basis to make this happen. In total, the workers involved will receive more than $100,000 in back pay.
Over the past year, 32BJ SEIU filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. After an exhaustive investigation, the region determined that 32BJ’s charges had merit and that Theta had violated the law through its actions. The complaint identified Theta and the non-union contractor, Clean Team, as joint employers that had broken the law.
32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President and New Jersey State Director Kevin Brown said: “The diligent workers who braved rain and snow to protest outside 150 Clove Road and whose families suffered as a result of unemployment can finally breathe a sigh of relief. This 14-month fight highlights the need for legislation like S2389: a worker retention law that gives workers 90 days of protection when a building subcontractor changes hands. Right now, that bill is sitting in committee while people suffer. The bill should be made law. Workers have rights and they need to be defended. Our union will fight day and night until workers are given the protection they deserve.”
Regarding S2389, 150 Clove Road Worker Diva Palacios said: “We lost our income, our health benefits and more. This law is needed – today more than ever – so that we can stay healthy and to know that we can work.”
Last year, Clean Team was paying workers only $14.50 an hour, when the prevailing wage rate under the NJCA was $16.70 for most of 2022 and had increased to $17.30 in October 2022. Because of 32BJ’s legal victory, Clean Team will compensate the employees for its underpaying of the workers.
Under the terms of the May 17 settlement, all terminated workers will be reinstated and a contractor will perform the cleaning services under the terms of the union contract, just as they did before the workers lost their jobs.
Before the events of 2022, 150 Clove Road in Little Falls had been union since 2008. Due to the courage and determination of its cleaners, the building is now, once again, union.
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.