On Halloween, janitors and community supporters visited Umpqua Bank Plaza to share frightening news with tenants about the janitorial company selected to clean the building.
Umpqua Bank Plaza first caught the attention of community leaders this summer, when new building owner Zeller Realty replaced its union janitorial company with National Maintenance Contractors (NMC).
As Willamette Week reported in 2004, “the bogus ‘franchises’ that janitorial contractor National Maintenance Contractors has been peddling to poor immigrants are rife with roguery… NMC lures franchisees, usually non-English speakers with no business experience, with the promise of owning their own janitorial company.”
NMC continues its franchising practices. Last month, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that NMC must back-pay the State approximately $138,000 in unemployment insurance taxes because its “franchisees” are legally employees.
Additionally, the court found:
- Franchisees (janitors) had to pay thousands of dollars to work for NMC.
- Some franchisees waited months for NMC to provide the work they had paid for.
- NMC deducted from franchisees’ income up to 51% of what building owners and property managers paid, including a 25% service fee if franchisees wanted assurance they could keep working after their first year.
- Franchisees were not paid for extra hours worked, such as when cleaning extra messes after an office party or correcting deficient work.
As part of the Raise America campaign, community members continue to call on Umpqua Bank Plaza management to reverse course and restore good jobs to their building in the heart of downtown.