July 24, 2015
By Stephanie West
Trenton, New Jersey – 32BJ cleaners have won a big victory in New Jersey. A federal National Labor Relations Board judge ordered a cleaning services contractor to rehire displaced janitors and make them whole for their losses. The contractor, Eastern Essential Services, must also give the cleaners back pay and benefits. And current employees who have been earning less than union standard wages must also receive back pay for the wages and benefits reduction per order of the judge.
The judge's decision comes after a long fight which began last summer when 33 office cleaners lost their jobs when EES refused to hire them because of their union affiliation. The cleaners decided to fight for their rights and 32BJ stood with them. Over the past year the janitors and supporters marched, rallied and testified to try to get their jobs back. 32BJ filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board and waged a legal fight to try to right this wrong. 32BJ was in it to win it – and did.
The decision ordered Eastern Essential Services to offer employment to the former cleaners within 14 days of the decision and remove from its files any reference to the unlawful refusal to hire the employees. And within three days thereafter, notify them in writing that this has been done and that the refusal to hire them will not be used against them in any way.
32BJ Vice President and NJ State Director Kevin Brown attributes this victory to the cleaners who stayed united and strong. “When workers stand up for their rights they send a clear message to employers that they must respect them and treat them fairly,” said Brown. “The judge’s decision should be a wakeup call to irresponsible building owners and contractors that we won’t sit back and allow them to come here and bust the union with illegal tactics that bring down wages and hurt working families.”