RELEASE: Labor union and environmental group unite in call for change at Daimler Trucks North America 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 24, 2018
Contact: Rae Dunnaville, 503-919-1960, raed@seiu49.org

A janitors’ labor union and air quality activists have teamed up to advocate for Daimler to change its approach to community engagement.

PORTLAND, OR — Portland-area janitors and their allies have criticized Daimler (OTCMKTS: DMLRY) for hiring a low-wage, non-union janitorial contractor to clean its new headquarters and nearby buildings. Now air quality advocates and a janitors’ labor union have teamed up to advocate for Daimler to change its approach to community engagement.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently issued a notice to Daimler Trucks of North America that the company’s truck production plant in Portland may release unlawful “nuisance odors” into adjacent neighborhoods.

DEQ’s regulatory action follows years of complaints by area residents, including reports of “gagging, nausea, headaches and coughing.”

Daimler has denied responsibility, despite a research study from University of Portland that concluded Daimler was the source of nuisance odors. Local advocates have called on Daimler to enter into a voluntary Good Neighbor Agreement, but the company refused.

Now DEQ is requiring Daimler to take action to address neighbors’ concerns. In August, the agency announced that Daimler has until October 26, 2018, to negotiate a Best Work Practices Agreement to mitigate the problem. If Daimler fails to negotiate an agreement acceptable to DEQ, the state agency can impose fines, which could exceed $10 million.

“Daimler received up to $20 million in public funds to build its new headquarters building in Portland, then hired a janitorial company that pays poverty wages and has high rates of on the job injuries,” said Maggie Long, executive director of SEIU Local 49. “That’s not a fair return on taxpayers’ investment, and it’s not acting like a good neighbor. We call on Daimler to use a responsible contractor and to work with DEQ and area residents to negotiate a fair agreement to reduce its industrial emissions.”

“It is time for Daimler to take responsibility for the negative impacts on the health and well-being of its neighbors,” said Mary Peveto, Executive Director of Neighbors for Clean Air. “Daimler’s unfiltered paint fumes blow directly into the neighborhood above its Swan Island truck manufacturing plant, and we believe the company’s janitorial contracting choices are not supporting good jobs at Daimler facilities.”

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Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 made up over 13,000 members in Oregon and southwest Washington who work in healthcare, janitorial, security, and other industries.

Neighbors for Clean Air (NCA) is a non-profit (501c3) grassroots community advocacy group working for clean and healthy air. The mission is to engage and inform the public about the impact of air toxics, such as diesel particulate and industrial air toxics, and work with community organizations, regulatory agencies and businesses to reduce air toxics and provide a safer and higher quality of life. www.whatsinourair.org