After decades of service, building cleaners lose jobs as company pursues profits over people
HARTFORD, Conn — On Friday, the Nassau Reinsurance Group will unnecessarily contribute to local economic suffering by letting go of ten dedicated, experienced janitors, some of whom have cleaned the building for decades.
The cleaners’ union, 32BJ SEIU, received notification on March 5 from Nassau Reinsurance Vice-President Jim Callahan that the company had chosen to replace the current unionized cleaning contractor, Service Management Group (SMG), with a non-union company, Environmental Control, at its headquarters located at One American Row (the “Phoenix Building”). More recently, Mr. Callahan informed the union that the new contractor had no interest in hiring the longtime cleaners, and that Friday, March 27, would be their last day of employment.
“With thousands of people losing their jobs daily because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including many of our own members, it is disgraceful that the Nassau Reinsurance Group is adding to our community’s suffering out of pure corporate greed,“ said Juan Hernandez, 32BJ SEIU Vice-President and head of the union in Connecticut. “It is a time when we all need to support each other, and a time when Governor Lamont has designated building cleaners as essential workers. Yet this company has chosen to eliminate jobs that provide decent wages and full health coverage, which is so important in this Coronavirus crisis. We call on the company to reverse course now, to save the livelihood of these cleaners and to do its part to continue supporting our local economy through these dark times.”
“I take pride in my job,” said Nassau Reinsurance building cleaner Marina Paoli, who has worked as a union cleaner for 12 years. “I know how important my work is especially now, and I take special care as I clean and disinfect. It would be a terrible blow for me and my family if I were to lose my job on Friday, in the middle of this current crisis.”
With 175,000 member in 11 states and Washington DC, including 5,000 members in Connecticut, 32BJ is the largest building service workers union in the country.