In California, janitors are leading the fight against wage theft, a widespread practice by which unscrupulous employers undercut wages by paying workers for fewer hours than they actually work, pay less than the minimum wage, refuse to pay overtime as required by law, or misclassify workers as contractors. Although federal, state and local laws prohibit such abuses, enforcement of critical labor laws lacks teeth, and few workers are able to recover any of their back pay even with a court ordered judgment in their favor. Workers are leading the way to toughen enforcement at all levels, with recent victories in Los Angeles and Santa Clara County, and SB 588 (De León), The Fair Day’s Pay Act, is now being considered in the State Assembly.
The week of June 15 commemorates the day that became a flashpoint for one of the most successful underpaid worker campaigns in recent history and brought the Justice for Janitors movement onto the national scene. What started as a peaceful worker protest ended with janitors being beaten by Los Angeles police officers. Janitors across the country are engaged in the largest private-sector organizing initiative in the country. Chicago and Cleveland won historic contracts earlier this year.
Events Across California
Janitors across the state will join their brothers and sisters in more than 30 cities across the country to hold commemorative actions and renew their commitment to wage justice for working families. The following rallies will take place in California this Thursday, June 18:Los Angeles 12 Noon Roxbury Park at Roxbury Dr. and Olympic Blvd. Century City Contact: Refugio Mata (805) 428-4075; firstname.lastname@example.org Orange County 12 Noon 2601 Main St. Contact: Marisol Rivera (714) 448-5378; email@example.com San Diego 12 Noon 750 B Street San Diego Contact: Genoveva Aguilar (619) 249-9597; firstname.lastname@example.org Sacramento 11 AM 300 Capitol Mall Sacramento Contact: Lino Pedres (916) 275-2039; email@example.com Santa Clara 12 Noon 3979 Freedom Circle Santa Clara Contact: Melissa Chadburn (213) 434-2929; firstname.lastname@example.org
*** Media Advisory for Thursday, April 23 ***
Community to Escalate Against Building Service Company Worsening Living Standards for Struggling Families
Contractor’s Arrogant Defiance of Law Would Set Dangerous Precedent
San Francisco, CA – A coalition of labor, community, and local leaders will confront Park Merced apartment leasing management — one of the largest privately owned residential complex in the country in what is one of the most profitable industries in the world — over the decision to terminate the employment of an entire staff that has worked at the location for years, in some cases decades, and select Preferred Building Services — a contractor known to violate the law, pay below area standards, and drop benefits for workers.
WHAT: Protest against treatment of maintenance workers in controversial high-rise apartment project.
WHEN: Thursday, April 23 at noon.
WHERE: Park Merced External Leasing Office. 3711 Nineteenth AVE, San Francisco, CA 94132.
Preferred Building Services was hired last week under murky conditions, which resulted in the dismissal of long-term janitors and handymen workers that benefited from stable wages, benefits, and a union. Existing local and state law dictate that maintenance employees must be offered work and retained for a certain period when a maintenance contractor changes. Preferred Building Services failed to comply with this process and is thus in defiance of the law.
Allowing Preferred Building Services to unilaterally refuse to comply with laws designed to protect workers in the low wage industry sets a dangerous precedent for families most vulnerable to the Bay area’s sky rocketing livings costs. It is also in contradiction of Park Merced Investors Group’s previous search for union-friendly contractors to replace outgoing VMP Maintenance Management.
A growing coalition is calling on Parkmerced management to respect and recognize union standards for janitors and handymen and support reinstatement of their employment. Coalition supporters include Jobs with Justice, Chinese Progressive Association, San Francisco Grey Panthers, San Francisco ACCE, California Faculty Association San Francisco State Chapter, United Educators of San Francisco, American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, SEIU 1021, California Nurses Association, and Supervisors Eric Mar, John Avalos, and David Campos.
Undermining pay and benefit standards for workers already being hit by rising living costs is the latest pattern of exhibited behavior for Park Merced. The project has been known to stir controversy among local families concerned with being displaced and priced out of living in the area.
The incident at Park Merced puts into question its wealthy developer’s intentions and consequences of its actions within the raging debate on gentrification as it seeks to construct luxury housing in other parts of the city.
WHAT: Building Skills Partnership (BSP), the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles (USGBC-LA), the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles (BOMA-GLA), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU)-United Service Workers West will host a press conference on March 25th from 1:00-2:00pm about the GREEN JANITOR EDUCATION PROGRAM’s first report. Los Angeles was selected as the pilot program city, but the program is expected to expand nationally.
The program, through which janitors are certified, provides hands-on energy management and green cleaning training to address Operations and Maintenance practices that enable buildings to meet green performance standards, with special focus on resulting energy efficiency. The program addresses energy efficiency, recycling, waste management, water conservation and other sustainable and green cleaning practices. The pilot program involved eight LEED-certified buildings across Los Angeles, with 126 janitors earning Certification.
WHO: Event speakers will include Matt Petersen, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Los Angeles; Aida Barragan, Executive Director, BSP; Dominique Smith, Executive Director, USGBC-LA; David Huerta, President, SEIU-United Service Workers West; Michele Ware, BOMA-GLA President; and Ana Velasquez, program–Certified green janitor, for DMS at City National Plaza. (English and Spanish interview opportunities available.)
WHY: Through this program, janitors are earning a seat at the sustainability table alongside building owners and managers, empowering them to actively participate in the goals of the LEED Rating System, with emphasis on energy efficiency and building health. LEED-certified existing buildings require green maintenance and operations practices. Prior to this Program, the janitors, who are at the forefront of building operations, didn’t necessarily understand why certain sustainable procedures or materials were required, or the kind of impact they, as janitors, could have on energy reduction and water consumption—and ultimately, human health—through their work. The program is also an example of social equity where everyone participates in management and maintenance of a building.
USGBC National established a ‘LEED Operations+Maintenance: Existing Building’ pilot credit for building service worker training, adding value to the partnership and program participation, and encouraging other cities to follow Los Angeles’ lead.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 1:00-2:00pm
WHERE: Constellation Place: 10250 Constellation Boulevard, Suite 1400, Los Angeles, CA 90067
PARKING: Parking is validated, please park in the structure for Constellation Place.
Julie Du Brow at Julie@dubroworks.com or 310-922-1301
Late breaking or live news crews please call 310-922-1301.
*English and Spanish interview opportunities from presenting speakers. ###
About Building Skills Partnership
The Building Skills Partnership is a 510(c)3 non-profit collaboration between SEIU-United Service Workers West, janitorial employers, building owners and community leaders. BSP’s mission is to improve the quality of life for low-wage, property service workers and their families by increasing their skills, access to education, and opportunities for career and community advancement and participation. (http://www.buildingskills.org/)
About Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles
The Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater LA is a national non-profit trade association consisting of over 300 commercial office building owners throughout LA County. Their mission is to enhance the value of commercial real estate through advocacy, education and professional networking. (www.bomagla.org)
About U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles
USGBC-LA isa501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to creating a prosperous and sustainable future within one generation.Our mission promotes sustainability in LA County’s built environment by delivering access to knowledge,resources,recognition and networking. (www.usgbc-la.org)
About Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West
SEIU United Service Workers West represents more than 40,000 janitors, security officers, airport workers, and other property service workers across California. (www.seiu-usww.org)
LOS ANGELES –SEIU-USWW (United Service Workers West) President David Huerta, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Council member Gil Cedillo, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) Executive Director Angelica Salas, and other community leaders hosted a press conference and rally outside City Hall to promote applications for the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. A judge in Texas placed a preliminary injunction on the implementation of the program that was set to become open for application starting tomorrow, February 18, with applications for DAPA expected in May 2015. In response, David Huerta, President of SEIU-USWW, issued the following statement: “The President’s executive action will mean no more deportations for millions, and real access to opportunities that will improve the lives of immigrant workers and their families,” said David Huerta, President of SEIU-USWW, which represents janitors, security officers, airport workers, and other service workers throughout California. “When workers step out of the shadows, they are able to protect themselves from unfair retaliation by employers and raise standards for everyone.” “The lawsuit trying to stop DACA and DAPA from going into effect is just a political stunt that the court system will soon reject,” Huerta continued. “It’s important for our community to continue to get ready to apply for those programs so they can become eligible as soon as possible.” “President Obama acted because Congress refused to fix our broken immigration system and he did so fully within his legal authority.” “But make no mistake: Latino families, Asian American families, and the entire immigrant community and our allies — we are all watching closely. We will remember the names of those anti-immigrant politicians that continue to play cynical games with the lives of our communities come elections time. Stonewalling providing relief for millions of immigrant families for cold political gain is inexcusable.” Currently, 1.1 million Californians qualify for DAPA and DACA. Across the country, dozens of groups hosted similar events, including educational forums and press events, to demonstrate broad support for the implementation of the new executive actions, as well as call for the passage of a ‘clean’ Department of Homeland Security funding bill and legislative efforts that will not undermine families. A central information resource promoted at the event – iAmerica.org is a source families can trust for accurate information and tools that will guide them through the process and enable them to gain referrals – with absolutely no money required. SEIU and partners in the legal community developed the online resource to prevent theft and fraud from unscrupulous attorneys or “notarios” who may take advantage of those seeking relief under the orders. SEIU’s message to immigrant families is never to pay for applications (which are available with no charge) and never to pay attorneys or others who claim to provide expedited service for a fee.