Standard Insurance talks about how they “act with compassion,” and have a “culture of caring.” They host events, such as their Volunteer Expo in downtown Portland, to attempt to demonstrate their commitment. Janitors and their supporters questioned Standards’ commitment to Portland after they chose to eliminate 15 good union jobs for janitors in their two downtown buildings. Handing out leaflets at the event, janitors and their supporters highlighted that Standard is failing Portland workers by eliminating good jobs.
Responsible building owners and managers have options; even if they decide they would like to change janitorial providers, they can choose from a variety of companies that provide good wages, benefits, and working conditions for janitors, meeting area standards, and with a tried and trusted dispute resolution process. Standard made a choice to select Millennium Building Services, a contractor classified as “Red” on ResponsibleContractorGuide.com, the lowest rating. For workers like Adela Maza, Standard’s decision means losing more than just a job: “I worked cleaning the Standard for more than a decade. These were good jobs where I had benefits and healthcare, I miss working downtown. This means 15 good jobs for janitors like me are now gone.”
Elected leaders are joining calls for Standard Insurance to reverse course. Standard Insurance owns two buildings in downtown Portland, Standard Plaza and the Standard Insurance Center. Both buildings chose to end contracts with a union janitorial firm in July.
Standard’s decision to eliminate good, union jobs surprised city commissioners when it was brought to their attention. Portland Commissioner Nick Fish commented, “This council is on record as strongly supporting Justice for Janitors.” Fish elaborated, “You have my commitment that I will work with SEIU and engage on this issue.” Commission Jo Ann Hardesty reaffirmed that “we as a city council have been really clear that we value union employment, we value good wages, we have health care.”
Janitors and their supporters are calling Standard Insurance to reverse the decision of Building manager Larry Hatton’s to eliminate good jobs. A list of local responsible contractors can be found at www.raiseamericaPDX.org/Responsible.