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OFFICE CLEANERS IN WILMINGTON WIN FIRST UNION CONTRACT

02.03.10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

OFFICE CLEANERS IN WILMINGTON WIN FIRST UNION CONTRACT
– Wage Hikes for 800 Office Cleaners –

Wilmington, DE – Janitors in Wilmington and New Castle County have won a historic area-wide contract with wage increases, health insurance, paid vacation and other benefits. After months of negotiations with area cleaning contractors, nearly 800 office cleaners, some of whom currently make as little as $7.25 with no health benefits will see their wages rise to $9.25 by the end of the 2 year contract, and for the first time full-time workers will receive employer-paid health benefits.

“What’s striking is that the men and women who clean the very banks that prompted this economic crisis have successfully fought for higher wages,” said Mike Fishman, President of 32BJ, the largest property service workers union in the country.

The contract will raise industry standards at more than three quarters of the commercial office buildings in Wilmington, and New Castle County including Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.

Under the new 2 year contract, which will go into effect on January, 2010 in Wilmington and in 2011 in New Castle County, office cleaners will earn a minimum wage of $8 per hour or receive a raise of at least 40 cents per hour. Average hourly wages will increase as much as $2 over the life of the 2 years contract, with an annual increases of 70 cent an hour effective January 2011 and a raise of 55 cents an hour on December 31, 2011 for Wilmington workers and a year later starting January 2011 for New Castle County workers. In both areas, for the first time, all full-time workers will receive employer paid quality health care.

“This is the beginning to a better life,” said Willie Grant an Arthur Jackson office cleaner who has been working for almost 3 year for the cleaning contractor in Wilmington. “I suffer from a heart condition, thank God we’re finally going to have healthcare.”

For several months, the union has negotiated on behalf of office cleaners who maintain buildings in Wilmington and New Castle County buildings and facilities. These office cleaners now join thousands of other 32BJ SEIU members who have won contracts improving standards for janitors across the country.

“This is an inspiring victory for 32BJ members, their families and the community of Wilmington,” said Kevin Kelley, Wilmington Council member. “These workers have shown that by uniting together in a union they can win the living wages and health care they deserve.”

With more than 110,000 members in eight states and Washington D.C., 32BJ is the largest property service union in the country.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: I had the pleasure of marching in Wilmington last year with this great union local. This is a huge win for hard-hit Delaware workers. I apologize for not getting this up sooner but I did not get the press release when it was first issued. Hats off to all my friends at SEIU 32BJ! GREAT JOB!!!!!

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