ST. LOUIS – The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 50 recently won another victory against Mitch Murch Maintenance Management (4M), a member of the Contract Cleaners Association (CCA). Local 50 has been in contract negotiations with CCA, an association of eight cleaning companies, since November 2001, and has targeted 4M because they are one of the largest janitorial employers in St. Louis. Local 50 represents 3,000 janitors in the St. Louis area.

On July 13 Local 50 voted to go on strike against 4M. On July 15 pickets went up at four different locations where Mitch Murch employs janitors: Alberici Construction, Shnucks Corporate Headquarters, Equitable Building and the Thomas Eagleton Federal Court House.

“Pickets went up at 10 a.m. at the Alberici building,” Charlie Hatcher, director of organizing for Local 50, told the World. “By 2 p.m., Mitch Murch had lost the contract.”

Cleaning companies bid for contracts and Local 50 hopes to create a situation where they can take contracts from 4M, directly challenging their market share and profits, and give those contracts to cleaning companies who are willing to pay a living wage and agree to the new contract.

Commenting on the recent victory at Alberici, Santios Tucker, employed by CCA member Clean Tech, said, “there is strength in solidarity! There is strength in being united!”

On July 19, payday, 4M illegally held strikers’ paychecks. “The average St. Louis janitor makes $6.50 an hour. For Mitch Murch to hold their paychecks is just barbaric,” said Hatcher. “These workers have groceries to buy, rent to pay and kids to take care of.” Local 50 filed unfair labor charges with the Wage and Hour division of the Labor Department.

At the Equitable Building, 16 of 22 janitors refused to cross the picket and at the Federal Court House seven of eight refused to cross. The Teamsters and the Elevator Operators Union have also refused to cross the picket.

When asked what he would say to 4M if he had the chance, Tucker responded: “I would tell ‘em to give up! We’ve already won! We are just waiting for them to wake up and smell the coffee. We are united and we are going to take what we want.”

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