Brookdale janitors rally for better working conditions, NLRB investigation begins

Sonal Madhok, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Brookdale’s janitors held a rally Nov. 7 outside of the BAC building on the Lincroft campus saying they are protesting disrespect on the job and poor working conditions. According to a statement written by the 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been investigating claims against the cleaning contractor that services BCC, 3H Service System Inc. 

According to the statement, 3H Service System Inc., threatened to renounce the workers’ collective bargaining agreement with 32BJ SEIU. The union filed charges against 3H in August, claiming the company is hiding workers from the union, effectively denying health insurance, paid time off and other benefits for about a year. 

The janitors also claim that the imposition of a one-year eligibility rule denied workers vacation and holiday benefits from 3H. The statement said 3H denied the workers a $0.55 wage increase from July. 32BJ said they wanted to negotiate workplace standards and procedures, but 3H refused to meet. In addition, the company had failed to provide payroll records to workers and discriminated against union members by paying them $0.50 less per hour than non-union members, the statement said.

“Our union has attempted for over a year to work with 3H to follow our collective bargaining agreement and treat workers with respect,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU vice president and New Jersey state director. 

“They have struggled through arbitration awards and grievance stipulations, and now, Region 22 of the NLRB has sided with the workers by prosecuting this claim. It is unjust that public money is being used to contract with 3H,” Brown said.

A worker of the 32BJ who represents Brookdale’s janitors is asking Brookdale students, faculty and others to get involved by complaining to BCC’s administration and the Board of Trustees. Bell also suggests that supporters join the janitors at any future actions and discussing the issue with janitors.

“32BJ is proud to have the support of Brookdale’s president who has been invested in the janitors’ fight to have their employer follow the union’s contract,” the worker said. According to the statement, the janitors believe workers may be due hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay. 

Acknowledging the demonstration of about 20 people, the college released a statement saying the job action took place on “a public space that is open to members of the community (where) peaceful demonstrations may be approved per college regulations.”

“Brookdale was informed of the demonstration, and the union clearly stated the rally was in no way an indication of a dispute with the college. The goal of the rally was to call attention to the union’s complaint against 3H, the facilities service contractor for the college, and to show support for the new contract since the current one expires at the end of the year,” the college said.