Washington, D.C. — A week into his tenure, Secretary of State Pompeo faces a number of problems including North Korea, Gaza and fallout from the Iran deal withdrawal, but he may not have been expecting to find a mess in his office building. May 1st request from the State Department’s Procurement Office directs R & R Building Services to make a 30% reduction in costs, leaving the contractor little choice but to layoff of 17 office cleaners, many of whom have worked at State for nearly 20 years.
“Putting a dozen office cleaners out of work won’t solve budgetary challenges, but it will hurt their children and our communities,” said Jaime Contreras, a 32BJ SEIU Vice President. “It’s immoral to make working families suffer just to save a few pennies.”
Among the cleaners who have been out of work since Friday, May 1.
Isabel Gueverra –19 years at State: a single mother living in a basement with her son, without any savings to help pay for rent, car, food and health insurance for her son. She worries about her diabetes, reporting that her blood sugar has been shooting up and that she can’t afford the $400 testing equipment. “I cry sometimes because I have a lot of medicine I won’t be able to pay for and I don’t know how I’m going to feed my my son. We never complained and no one ever complained about our work.”
Bonita Williams – 10 years at State: a single mother of five and grandmother of eight facing an electricity shut-off warning if she doesn’t pay $400 by May 18th. I’m so worried that I can’t even get out of bed or get from point A to point B. I’m having paralyzing headaches and nausea ever since I lost my job.”
Maria Guardado – single mother of four: “I’m the only one working to pay for rent, bills. I have bad asthma – I’m worried that I will end up in the hospital or dead from an asthma attack if I can’t afford my medicine. I’m so upset I can’t even sleep!”
Blanca Gordada – 16 years at State: a single mother caring for her daughter, also a single mother working only part-time and her three children. “I don’t know how I will pay off my loan or credit cards. I’m so afraid of losing my house that it’s been making me physically ill.”
Lillian Gonzalez – 17 years at State: “I have three grandsons and a very sick sister who all live with me and who I need to support. I have a $15,000 loan that I’m falling behind on payments – I’m sick with worry.”
With more than 163, 000 members in 11 states, including 18,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.
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