Workers rally against cleaning company for cruel behavior toward working families at 1&3 Barker Avenue, White Plains
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.— At noon, dozens of union members and community allies joined a group of Westchester County Legislators to rally for a group of workers who were suddenly and unfairly displaced from their cleaning jobs at an office complex in White Plains.
“These longtime workers provided the building owner and tenants at 1 & 3 Barker Street excellent service for many years, sometimes over a decade,” said Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to the President of 32BJ SEIU, the union that had represented the displaced cleaners. “It’s shameful that they should suddenly find themselves out of work from one day to the next. Today, we join together to demand that the new cleaning contractor hire these workers and offer them pay and benefits that will allow them to continue supporting themselves and their families.”
On September 5, 2018, a new cleaning company, Zobber Janitorial and Cleaning, took over the contract at the properties, and refused to hire most of the building’s workers. None of the night cleaners received any written offer of employment. The new cleaning contractor is paying half-time workers almost a third less than previous employees earned, with none of the union benefits.
“I worked at the building for a dozen years,” said Araceli Hernandez. “I know all the tenants, know how to do my job well. But I learned the day before they arrived that we would have a new cleaning company, and they refused to hire me. My husband and I depended on the job to feed our two teenage children and pay our bills. It’s been very hard on us.”
“Araceli talked about not having health benefits, about having trouble supporting her family — this is unfair,” said Ben Boykin, Chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. “We are standing with our brothers and sisters in labor to say, we want these workers’ jobs back, and we want justice for them.”
“We will not stand by idly, while our workers are being marginalized by a company blatantly disobeying our county law of protecting service workers from being displaced,” said David Tubiolo, Westchester County Legislator and co-chair of the Labor Sub-Committee.
“This fight is about economic justice, and make no mistake, it’s about racial justice too,” said Andy Falk, Field Director at Citizen Action of New York. “We need to defend our power by standing together, black, brown and white workers united.”
With more than 163,000 member in 11 states and Washington DC— including 4,000 members in the Hudson Valley — 32BJ is the largest building service workers union in the country