A regional gathering on November 8 brought together over 70 Portland-area janitors to plan a campaign to win a ground-breaking contract with their employers in the coming months.
The janitors are part of the 3,000 janitorial members of SEIU Local 49 in the Portland metro area. Although they are employed by many different janitorial contractors, their wages, benefits, and workplace protections are all under the same “Portland Metropolitan Area Master Collective Bargaining Agreement” set to expire June 30.
These 70 janitors are the first members of the “Contract Action Team,” or CAT.
Portland-area janitors’ efforts are part of a national wave of janitorial contract renegotiations in major cities throughout the U.S., this year and next.
In early October, 13,500 janitors in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and Philadelphia reached agreements with their employers and with building owners and managers, averting possible strikes in over 1,500 union-cleaned buildings. The new contracts all mean improvements in wages and benefits for union janitors, as well as a path for janitors in new markets to join the union.