Boston, MA — Over a hundred MBTA janitors and supporters rallied today outside the State House demanding dignity and respect as the MBTA is set to cut nearly 100 cleaning jobs. The plan would eliminate 1/3 of the cleaning workforce that keeps the T stations safe and clean. Janitors have repeatedly raised the alarm to the MBTA that these drastic cuts will shock the system with more grime-filled staircases, dirty walls and garbage-strewn stations.
“Just like the workers in Lawrence fought for “bread and roses — fair wages and dignity – over a hundred years ago, the MBTA janitors are fighting for respect and to maintain good jobs that keep stations safe and clean, said Roxana Rivera Director of 32BJ SEIU District 615.
In recent weeks the MBTA has been criticized for a staff cutting plan that many consider unfair and risky. Last week, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Health and Safety(MassCosh) released a scolding review of health and safety conditions at the T, urging the MBTA to reassess the pending janitorial staffing cuts that could reduce the janitorial workforce at T stations by 30%.
“We are greatly concerned about the increased health and safety risk to the general public, a memo authored by Tolle Graham Labor Environment Coordination at MassCosh stated.
MassCosh’s review raises concerns about workers cleaning body fluids, including blood, feces and vomit without the proper equipment and training necessary for protection from infectious disease.
At the legislative briefing in June, elected officials called upon the MBTA to ensure that the quality of the cleaning services that its customers expect and deserve is not undermined. Effort to cut costs shouldn´t fall on the backs of the lowest paid workers and their families. 52 members of the state Legislature signed a letter to Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey, calling on him to “take all necessary steps to stop this change.” The Boston City Council also passed a resolution in support of the janitors.
With more than 145,000 members in 11 states, including 18,000 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, SEIU 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.
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