Standard Insurance came under nationwide scrutiny as low wage workers and their allies raised concerns about Standard’s contracting practices. In Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver and Seattle, janitors delivered letters to Standard insurance offices, calling on the company to do right by the people who clean their buildings. As one more example of the powerful #JusticeForJanitors campaign, the delegations all requested that The Standard reverse course and choose from one of the many Responsible Contractors that operate in the Portland market.
Meanwhile in Portland local janitors dressed in tiaras, tutus, and other costumes. They set up a booth outside Standard Insurance Center to share candy and Halloween balloons, and to talk with building tenants about The Standard’s recent choice to replace its union janitors with a non-union workforce.
The company recently decided to eliminate the good union jobs of the overnight janitors at Standard Plaza and Standard Insurance Center, instead bringing in Millennium Building Services, a company with known problems respecting the rights of workers,. (For background on Millennium’s problems, click here.)
Some of the janitors who lost their jobs on short notice had cleaned The Standard’s buildings for decades.
“I cleaned at Standard Insurance Center for 10 years,” said Adela Maza, a member of SEIU Local 49. “We were like family, and we worked hard to keep The Standard buildings clean. Then all of a sudden, we lost our jobs.”
“I guess the people who work at The Standard didn’t care much about us, because we’re invisible. We work late at night and they never see us,” said Maza.
Choosing a Responsible Contractor is good for building owners and property managers, as well as the people who clean their building. Workers get decent wages, benefits, and fairness on the job. This fosters employee retention and service quality, which reduces risk and protects the long-term value of a property. For more about Responsible Contracting, visit www.ResponsibleContractorGuide.net, or to find a local contractor for Portland, visit www.RaiseAmericaPDX.org/Responsible.