Janitors file EEOC complaints vs. companies

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 50 held a press conference here, June 13, filing complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Local 50, representing more than 3,000 janitors, charged six St. Louis cleaning companies with “blatant” sexual and racial discrimination.

Local 50 has been in contract negotiations with the Contract Cleaners Association (CCA), a group of eight cleaning companies, since November 16, 2001. Five of the six cleaning companies charged with EEOC violations are members of CCA.

One such CCA member charged in the complaint is Clean-Tech Co. Local 50 charged WFF, a subsidiary of Clean-Tech Co., of paying a white worker $13 an hour while paying a Black worker $8.50 an hour for the same job. WFF employs 468 Local 50 members.

Local 50 also charged Spann Building Maintenance, another CCA member, which employs 800 Local 50 members, of paying female janitors an average wage of $6.26 an hour. The average wage for male workers is $6.71, a 45-cent difference.

Donald Rudd, president of Local 50, said, “This is blatant and immoral discrimination. We cannot allow these companies to violate the law of the land.”

Other companies listed in the complaint are Mitch Murch Maintenance Management, ABBCO Service Co., BG Maintenance and CMMS, the only independent cleaning company charged with EEOC violations.

Prior to the press conference, members of Local 50, Jobs with Justice and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 88 and 881 rallied outside of the A.G. Edwards building, where over 140 janitors work.

At the rally John Reichling, of UFCW 881, told the World, “every working American deserves to make a wage that can support their family with a pension plan and healthcare. With union solidarity we can make it happen.”

Democratic State Rep. John Bowman, in response to the charges filed against the cleaning companies, said, “you must share with the people who have made your company a success. These janitors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” Bowman added, “this is a simple matter of doing what is right.”

Doris James, a janitor employed by Spann, said, “We want equal pay now; we want health insurance now. We do the work, we are the ones who bring the money in, and we deserve a living wage!”

The author can be reached at tonpec2000@yahoo.com