- They’ve claimed that we’ve withheld employees’ health insurance – that’s FALSE.
- They’ve claimed that we’ve locked out and even fired workers who participated in the SEIU strike activities – that’s FALSE.
- They’ve claimed we’ve threatened employees’ jobs and security – that’s FALSE.
- They’ve claimed we’ve reduced wages and benefits – that’s FALSE.
- In characterizing workers’ pay and benefits, they conveniently ignore the fact that in Houston (unlike some other markets) these positions are practically all part-time positions, yet provide good wages and health care benefits and paid vacation.
- They’ve even filed “Unfair Labor Practice” charges – a common negotiating tactic – but notably refuse to provide facts to investigate or substantiate these claims.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Here's the latest on the janitor strike, courtesy of the Houston Area Maintenance Contractor's Association. This update was provided to the customers of Association members over the past few days.
We wanted to provide you this update on the collective bargaining agreement covering janitors serving the Houston area.
For background purposes, the janitorial workers are represented by the Chicago-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1. We are negotiating as part of the Houston Area Maintenance Contractors Association, which includes ABM Janitorial Services, GCA Services and ISS Facility Services. Our labor contract with the SEIU expired on May 31. The Association members commenced bargaining on May 1 with the goal of reaching an agreement that is in the mutual best interest of all parties involved – our employees, our customers, and us – the cleaning companies.
Unfortunately, over recent weeks, SEIU negotiators have sought to gain negotiating advantage through a series of tactics and public statements mischaracterizing various proposals and positions. We feel compelled to correct these inaccuracies because many of them are so violently at odds with the truth. Here are the facts:
· May proposal. Our workers are provided good wages, health care benefits and paid vacation time, among other provisions – as previously agreed with the SEIU. In May, we offered a proposal including higher wages, additional employer contributions for health insurance and other benefits. But we remain mindful of economic realities facing our customers. The SEIU’s proposal was simply unrealistically high – including (but not limited to) an immediate 8% wage increase, above and beyond the 3% hike already paid earlier this year, and what would amount to an 11% increase in 2012 and a 20% increase in wages alone over the next two-and-a-half years.
· The SEIU unilaterally ended negotiations and called a strike. After the Association and SEIU exchanged initial economic proposals, SEIU on May 17 made a slight modification to their initial proposal and declared that to be its “final offer.” They then walked out of negotiations with two weeks left before the contract expired, despite the contractors' offer to continue bargaining until contract expiration.
· Nearly all our employees want to work, not strike. While the SEIU claimed a strike beginning in early June, there has been virtually no meaningful strike activity. Since the vast majority of our employees prefer just to do their jobs, the SEIU’s activity has largely been confined to some one-day actions at selected sites. Although the SEIU has been touting high participation, we estimate that some 98% of available staff have ignored the purported “city-wide strike.” Very few janitors have actually been participating in the SEIU’s near-daily protests. However, since the SEIU walked away from talks, they have brought in a number of their professional organizers from around the country (as well as coordinating with other groups, such as Occupy Houston) to populate the SEIU events. Houston-area employees are being pressured, harassed and intimidated to support the SEIU strike, often by these out-of-town SEIU operatives. At some work sites, employees have literally been physically restrained from coming in to work.
· SEIU’s increasingly shrill campaign of falsehoods. As workers’ participation and enthusiasm for the SEIU strike lags, the SEIU has fabricated a series of attacks against the contractors.
Simply put, we have not changed employee pay, benefits or work schedules, and we have not fired or otherwise retaliated against any employees who participated in SEIU activities. We will continue to defend and support our employees’ right under the labor laws to come to work, even if the SEIU continues to ignore employees’ wishes.
Through its words and deeds, SEIU has made clear that the parties will not return to the negotiating table until the SEIU is prepared to negotiate away from its May ultimatum.
We will continue to update you as we work to achieve a mutually beneficial resolution of this matter. And, in any event, we have made significant preparations and will continue to service our customers throughout this period.