The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: How CRE Decisionmakers Are Standing Up to COVID-19 – or Not

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Shorenstein Realty Services, Unico Properties, Nike, and Intel are stepping up to ensure that the essential workers who clean their properties—janitors—are able to support their families during this crisis and are helping to mitigate the health risks and financial impacts of COVID-19 by investing in responsible union janitorial contractors.

By investing in responsible union janitorial contractors, some decision makers help reduce the health risks and the financial impacts of COVID-19 by supporting best practices for social distancing, disinfecting high-touch areas of buildings, compensating workers who must stay home, and keeping janitorial staff working, despite offices that have begun to empty.

There are many other CRE leaders in our communities that are doing the same and we applaud them for their work. Their decisions have a profound impact in our communities.

Meanwhile, other businesses and janitorial contractors have forced workers to fend for themselves while the entire country grapples with containing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping people safe.

THE GOOD

  • Shorenstein Realty Services, Unico Properties, Nike, and Intel have committed to maintaining the pay and benefits of their subcontracted janitors in the Portland area, who work for Able Services, ABM, and SBM.
  • In the Seattle area, Microsoft and Amazon have announced they will continue to pay subcontracted hourly workers such as janitors, security officers, and food service staff, even as their campuses emptied for safety concerns and direct employees shifted to working from home.
  • Cleaning companies have proven the value of collaborating with their union-represented workforces when labor-management provides effective trainings on cleaning techniques and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Ebola Crisis in 2014 was stopped in part due to these collaborations to keep workers safe; today, the same is happening in companies with union workforces.

THE BAD

  • At Standard Center and Standard Plaza in downtown Portland, a janitor reported Millennium Building Service’s adaptation to COVID-19 was limited to circulating information in English, which Spanish-speaking janitors could not understand, and switching to a new cleaning chemical, without substantive training on its use.

THE UGLY

  • Millennium Building Services employees at The Standard’s buildings have reported they can’t afford to stay home when they feel sick. In the past, the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI) found that Millennium was in violation of protected sick leave law and had retaliated against an employee for taking sick leave.