7,000 Janitors Clean House With New Labor Contract

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Roughly 7,000 New Jersey janitors ratified a new labor contract Wednesday bringing an end to a bitter labor dispute which put the workers on the verge of striking.

The new four-year contract will cover office cleaners and school custodians throughout the state. The agreement was first forged Dec. 17 between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the New Jersey Contractors Association. Now with ratification, the contract is legally valid. The contract will apply to the 7,000 janitors belonging to 32BJ SEIU New Jersey.

“This is a good contract that includes family sustaining wages and maintains quality employer-paid benefits,” SEIU NJ State Director Kevin Brown said in a statement. “But it’s not just 32BJ cleaners who will benefit.”

Negotiations began Oct. 13 but were quickly plagued with problems. Workers voted Dec. 16 to authorize a strike if no deal was reached by the end of the month. The vote was followed by a rally and march. The two sides were able to agree on a contract the next day after a 12-hour bargaining session. The deal allowed the two sides to just barely avoid a massive strike.

“When workers earn enough to afford more than the basics they put that money back into the economy,” Brown continued. “And fair wages help employers retain reliable and experienced employees.”

The union represents both state and commercial janitors working at more than 500 buildings throughout New Jersey. The new deal is expected to raise wages and benefits.

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