Local political leaders, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Montgomery County Executive Mark Elrich, Arlington County Board Member Katie Cristol, and Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott, yesterday warned commercial building owners not to lay off or cut benefits to cleaners on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
The leaders said in a statement that “32BJ members are the office cleaners and security officers, among others who are on the frontlines of the Coronavirus crisis, keeping buildings clean and safe for everyone. The work they do every day is invaluable and now more than ever, their hard work can literally save lives. These men and women are the unsung heroes of the Coronavirus pandemic and they can least afford to lose wages and benefits during this crisis.”
Noting that the metro Washington area has the healthiest real estate market in the country and tenants continue to pay the highest rents, the leaders said that the owners and their contractors have a responsibility to their cleaners and officers.
“These men and women have performed their jobs admirably under extraordinarily difficult circumstances,” said the local leaders, “(yet) at the same time that cleaners and security officers have stepped forward to do their jobs during this outbreak, they are now being threatened with layoffs and reductions…Building owners can and must ensure the well-being and health of workers and their families.”
With more than 175,000 members in 11 states, including over 20,000 in the metro D.C. area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.
In today’s labor history, on this date in 1981, five Rockwell International workers were asphyxiated during a nitrogen purge of the engine compartment while setting up a ground test for the space shuttle Columbia. Two of them died. The technicians had been cleared by NASA safety supervisors to enter the compartment and a NASA board of inquiry concluded that a last-minute change in testing procedures, along with a breakdown in communications at the space center, caused the incident.
Today’s labor quote is by chef Jose Andres, who posted this video earlier this week from a local Giant supermarket, where UFCW Local 400 members were re-stocking shelves:
“So here it is one, two o'clock in the morning and all the amazing people here at Giant (are) working hard, restocking everything. These people are going to be feeding America, so I hope this serves as an homage to every man and woman who’s going to be helping to keep the supermarkets full, to feed everybody in this moment of uncertainty. Thank you to all of them.”
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