October 13, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – WeWork cleaners left jobless after the company severed ties with its contracting service amidst last summer’s tumultuous labor dispute, could be working again shortly thanks to the efforts of 32BJ SEIU.
A new deal announced this week between WeWork and the union gives former Commercial Business Maintenance [CBM] employees preference in filling new cleaning positions created as a result of company expansion.
WeWork did not reveal when or where its new co-working outlets might debut around town, but those left jobless since August, now have access to a $250,000 severance package in the interim.
According to 32BJ, the popular work-sharing company with locations in 16 cities and four countries worldwide, has also committed to using responsible cleaning contractors in both New York and Boston, guaranteeing prevailing wages and respecting workers’ right to organize.
“This agreement is a win for working people and helps maintain the standards for good building service jobs in both cities,” 32BJ President Hector Figueroa said in a statement. “I salute the courageous workers who took action together and look forward to welcoming them into our union.”
In a conference call with reporters, former CBM cleaners at WeWork who spent months fighting for better wages and benefits before losing their jobs over the summer, attributed this week’s victory to worker strength and solidarity, and said they are eager to get back to work.
“It is very exciting for me and my former coworkers to see that WeWork is committing to good cleaning jobs and that I will have a chance to return to work there,” former CBM cleaner Ivan Castelan said. “It feels really good to see that when working people stand together we can change our lives and the lives of other workers for the better.”
WeWork head Artie Minson also celebrated the new agreement with 32BJ SEIU.
“We pride ourselves on being great partners and we are pleased that we were able to develop a win-win partnership with 32BJ SEIU,” Minson said in a statement. “This arrangement provides a sensible path forward that allows us to focus on our top priority: providing the best possible experience for our members in a way that allows their passion and innovative spirit to flourish.”
While it is unclear when those not already hired back might be able to secure new positions at WeWork, Figueroa said that they will no longer be subjected to an English language requirement as a condition of new employment.
Indeed, the union leader representing some 125,000 service workers in 11 states, said that because of educational programs and courses available through the union, WeWork cleaners in the future will attain English languages skills “not as a condition of employment — but as a result of employment.”
This week’s agreement also resolves the dispute between the union and WeWork filed with the National Labor Relations Board.