Without contract, janitors ready to strike
Some 800 members of the service-union 32BJ SEIU agreed to strike if a new contract is not reached with their employer by Thursday.
The unionized workers are janitors, engineers, and maintenance personnel who tend to 170 Center City buildings represented by Building Owners Labor Relations Inc. 2,800 workers are covered under the current contract, and the vote of the 800 gave strike-authorization to the union's bargaining committee. Negotiations have lasted over a month between these service-workers and the Building Owners, but there remains no consensus on pensions and health care.
Should no agreement be reached by Thursday, 170 major downtown buildings — including City Hall — could find themselves without a large chunk of their support crew.
“The tenants will definitely be impacted,” said Traci Benjamin, a spokeswoman for 32BJ SEIU. “We’re talking major buildings like Wells Fargo, Comcast tower, One and Two Liberty Place.”
The Building Owners want to freeze the pension system for current employees and eliminate it entirely for incoming employees. They also want the workers to make some of their own healthcare, while the union says healthcare payments would severely detract from the workers’ living wages.
“To make these workers have to pay for healthcare pushes them back into poverty.” Benjamin said. “They’re barely making enough to support themselves as it is. They’re not asking for much. These buildings, they have it. These employers, they have it.”