Portland Janitors Stand Up to JPMorgan Chase for Fair Pay and Good Benefits at Brewery Blocks in Downtown Portland!

Nearly a hundred Portland-area janitors and their allies demonstrated today outside M Financial Plaza and the Whole Foods Building, two office buildings in the Pearl District’s Brewery Blocks. The workers were protesting that the buildings’ owner, JPMorgan Chase – the largest bank in the U.S. – is using a non-union janitorial company with a history of violating workers’ rights. 

The union janitors first sounded the alarm about this decision in the fall when local property manager Arke Management decided to dump the union janitors who had long cleaned the buildings. After weeks of outreach by SEIU Local 49 and the community to Arke Management and the buildings’ tenants, a representative from owner JPMorgan Chase doubled down on the decision to go non-union. 

I’m forever thankful for the property manager and the Brewery Blocks tenants for using a union janitorial company all these years. My union job was a blessing. I had healthcare, great benefits, and a pension that allowed me to retire last month!  I am sad to hear that Brewery Blocks is eliminating these good union jobs and moving to a non union janitorial company. My former coworkers are like family to me.  Now, they could lose everything. Keeping union jobs at this building is important. It gives people a like me a chance at a better life. I hope that Brewery Blocks will reconsider and change their decision—it’s not too late! 

-Jerry Brown, Retired Brewery Blocks Janitor 

Union janitors are not having it. “We have worked hard to raise standards for good jobs,” said Adela Maza, a Portland-area janitor and active member of SEIU Local 49. “We can’t just let building owners like JPMorgan Chase take that away by replacing us with non-union companies. That’s why janitors from all over this city are coming together to say we need good union jobs to support our families, in every office building.” 

“I’ve been working for a union janitorial company for five years and it has made a big difference for me and my family,” Maza said. “Before that, I had no paid time off, and no way to raise any concerns without getting fired, no voice or respect on the job. Now, I feel more supported, and I have paid vacation and sick time. If someone in my family is sick, I can stay home for a day and still pay my bills.” 

This week, in a survey emailed to people who work in Brewery Blocks 1 and 4, 50% of respondents said that the quality of janitorial services had gotten worse since Arke Management switched from a union to a non-union janitorial service provider. In fact, 100%of respondents said that before the switch was made, they were “very satisfied” with the original janitorial company with the unionized workforce.*

*This unscientific survey was conducted via an email sent March 6, 2024, to 105 individuals who, according to company websites and LinkedIn profiles, live or work in the Portland area and are employees of companies that lease space in Brewery Blocks 1 or 4. Two anonymous individuals who stated they currently work in one of the buildings had responded as of March 11, 2024, at 9:00 a.m.