FOR MORE INFORMATION: Frank Soults, 860-471-5692
HARTFORD, Conn. —At meetings in Hartford and New Haven this morning, about 450 janitors unanimously voted to strike if bargaining sessions don’t result in a new contract by December 31 that protects the janitors’ benefits and includes a fair wage increase.
“So far, the cleaning contractors have not offered to give you a decent raise, have not offered the funds necessary to maintain our pensions and benefits, and have not offered you the five dedicated sick days we need,” said 32BJ Connecticut District Leader Juan Hernandez to over 400 union members at the Central Baptist Church in New Haven. “When they work for insurance companies and other corporations that have made millions and billions in profit, this is just blatantly unfair!”
“I don’t need to tell you that the basic necessities like rent and food are increasing, and that Connecticut has some of the greatest income disparities in the country,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa to the enthusiastic Hartford crowd. “A fair wage increase is essential for all of Connecticut working people, and we are ready to fight for it!”
“We need to remind the contractors that we have families who depend on our wages, who need these benefits,” said Ciro Gutierrez, a 32BJ member who cleans at the University of Connecticut and is a member of the bargaining committee. “We are not wealthy. We make a modest living in a wealthy state. We ask the same benefits that all families who work hard should have.”
Negotiation sessions with the Hartford County Cleaning Contractors association have been regularly held since November 19. Two current contracts expire at midnight on December 31, one covering 2,100 janitors in Hartford County, the other covering 300 janitors in New Haven and 200 in other Connecticut towns. Properties cleaned in Hartford include Aetna and Travelers, the University of Connecticut, and many state buildings. Properties cleaned in New Haven include the New Haven public schools, the Connecticut Financial Center, the Knights of Columbus, Century Tower, the city courts, and City Hall. The negotiations are part of a series of contract negotiations covering over 70,000 janitors on the East Coast — one of the largest collective bargaining agreements in the country.
With more than 145,000 members in 11 states and Washington DC, including 4,000 members in Connecticut, 32BJ is the largest building service workers union in the country.