Statements from the SEIU:
Frank Soults, spokesperson for the SEIU comment on the effect Teamsters’ refusal to serve buildings where SEIU will picket will have : “They (the buildings) are severely affected, in various ways. It’s been a remarkably strong combination when the Teamsters and janitors strike together.”
Soults confirmed remarks made during the demonstrtation by a speaker the Cleaning Company Contractors have not discussed wages, but have demanded the union agree to lower number of sick days and the contractors wanted to make members pay for damaged equipment or property in any mishap.
Soults released a statement Friday from Tom Carey, President of the Westchester-Putnam Labor Central Labor Body, “We will walk the picket lines with you and we will ask our member unions to honor your picket lines.” Their website is here https://www.wpclb.org/
“We want the contractors and building owners to know that cleaners will not be shut out of the economic success we helped build!” said Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to the President of 32BJ and the head of the union in the Hudson Valley. “With your authorization tonight, you demonstrate your willingness to walk off the job after December 31, to ensure that your families can continue to thrive.”
“Your fight is our fight!” said Louis Picani, President of Teamsters Local 456. “Every day you go to work, breaking your backs, but your bosses do not appreciate your efforts! Let’s let them know you cannot be broken! Let’s win a good contract now, and never give up the fight!”
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach reiterated the message. “I’m here to let you know I’m standing with you in your fight for a fair contract. I know about and am very grateful for the important work you do for everyone here in White Plains. Businesses depend on you to be viable.”
The 3,000 janitors covered under the contract clean some 250 properties across the Hudson Valley and Fairfield County, Connecticut. That amounts to over 85% of the large commercial buildings in the area, from suburban corporate headquarters to downtown office towers, from small universities to sprawling shopping malls.
“This is a simple issue,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “Do we want to live in a country of the haves and have-nots, or do we want to build prosperity together? The policemen, the public employees who work in the County Building, the Teamsters, all deserve a fair contract, and so do the building cleaners of the Hudson Valley…. We call on your employers to negotiate a fair contract you can live with!”
At the height of the gathering, 32BJ Secretary Treasurer Larry Engelstein boarded the flatbed to ask, “Are you ready to tell the bosses that if we don’t get a satisfactory offer from them, we are ready to strike?”
With that, 500 hands lifted cards reading YES in bold letters — unanimously authorizing a potential strike — and the workers began a march through downtown White Plains that passed major buildings that the union members clean every day and night.
“It can be difficult, being in negotiations, but we stand firm together” 32BJ cleaner and bargaining committee member Claudia Rodriguez said from the flatbed before the vote and march. “And what helps us most is the bigger unity behind us. Our great strength is that 3,000 of our brothers and sisters are also united. It’s what you and I do together here, in the streets, and if necessary, in the strike we will take after December 31, that will ensure we get a good contract.”