WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Area office building cleaners have unanimously approved a four-year agreement that provides a 13 percent wage increase over the course of the contract.
The new contract also provides affordable health care coverage and increases the number of full-time job opportunities. Workers were previously making $12 an hour and will end up making $14.10 an hour by the end of the contract.
“That’s something that will help them maintain a life in these areas,” said Kwame Patterson, a spokesperson for the 32BJ chapter of the Service Employees International Union. “They don’t just work in this area, they live there, and it’s extremely expensive to raise a family there.”
Members of the union's 32BJ chapter, which covers Westchester and Fairfield ccounties, voted to approve the contract over the weekend between themselves and area cleaning contractors such as American Building Maintenance (ABM) and A & A Maintenance, which clean prominent buildings such as the University of Connecticut, major banks including UBS and RBS and the Galleria and Westchester malls in White Plains.
The previous four-year contract expired on Dec. 31, and building owners and managers began negotiations on a new contract with the union in early November.
“We’re pleased we were able to work out a deal with contractors before the deadline and avoid a strike,” Patterson said. “The cleaners in these areas clean most of if not all the commercial office building such as malls, so it would have been bad for the tenants, bad for the customers that frequent those locations, bad for the cleaners and for the business owners.”
According to Patterson, there are about 1,700 commercial cleaners in the Hudson Valley and more than 1,500 in Fairfield County.
Calls to several buildings covered by the union workers, including the Westchester and Galleria malls, were not immediately returned.