Harrison Square: New Owners, New Problems?

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After decades of being cleaned by a Responsible Union Contractor, the new owners of Harrison Square made the hasty decision to switch to Expresso Building Services. This is the same Expresso Building Services that is currently being sued for their alleged failure to obtain a license to provide janitorial services in Oregon until 18 months after they were required to do so by Oregon state law. Developing story as we learn more.

Janitors in Oregon celebrated in 2017 when state legislators passed a law requiring all janitorial contractors to obtain a license to provide janitorial services in the state. This new law was modeled on similar rules in California intended to prevent sexual violence and harassment against janitors on the job. All janitorial companies were required to register by January of 2018.

Despite being a long-time provider of janitorial services, Expresso Building Services failed to register with the State of Oregon by the January 2018 deadline. The State gave contractors a grace period to register by July of 2018; still Expresso did not obtain a license. Only in June of 2019 — a year and a half after being required by law to do so — did Expresso finally applied for a state license. Under the License and Registry, a janitorial customer may be personally, jointly, and severally liable for any unpaid wages due to an employee who worked for the customer.

The janitors’ union in Portland, SEIU 49, filed suit in September 2019 alleging that Expresso failed to obtain a license to provide janitorial services in Oregon until 18 months after they were required to do so by Oregon state law. The suit further alleges that Expresso failed to notify workers of their rights on the job and provide clear statements of compensation and benefits to workers.