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.
As of January 1st, 2018, all janitorial employers in the State of Oregon were required to obtain a license to provide janitorial services. Oregon janitors in SEIU 49, the janitors union, filed a lawsuit last week against Expresso Building Services for failure to obtain a license as a janitorial employer. Our understanding is that Expresso continued to operate as an unlicensed janitorial contractor in Oregon for nearly 18 months, only applying after receiving an inquiry from state investigators who were following up on an anonymous complaint. Janitorial service clients may closely watch the suit, as Oregon law also requires anyone who receives janitorial services to inspect and retain a copy…
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.
A group of immigrant janitors in California are changing the janitorial industry from the ground up. On June 24, over 100 janitors, mostly members of SEIU United Service Workers West, celebrated graduation from Promotora trainings. The trainings covered the prevention of sexual harassment and assault, as well as certifying janitors to train their coworkers across the state to prevent violence in the future. The training is part of an innovative strategy to end sexual violence before it happens, based on a simple concept – that empowered workers who know their rights are the best trainers on how to prevent future workplace violence.
For over 20 years, Standard Insurance Center and Standard Plaza have invested in a responsible union janitorial company to keeps their offices clean. Janitors in the buildings had good jobs, earned fair wages and had access to affordable healthcare. In July, Standard made the decision to switch to Millennium Building Services, a non-union contractor marked “Red,” the lowest possible rating, on ResponsibleContractorGuide.net. Millennium workers have been speaking out about working conditions since 2017. Workers report extreme exploitation, unfair wages and unaffordable health insurance. Millennium is known for using a subcontractor model, where they may further subcontract janitorial services to dubious “independent contractors” — sometimes without the knowledge of the building managers.