Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Church custodians demonstrate after being fired without warning

February 8, 2010

NEW YORK — Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ organized a demonstration outside a Manhattan church after nine custodial workers were fired without notice right before the New Year holiday, according to the New York Daily News.

According to the story, the workers were fired on December 30 from their jobs cleaning the Episcopal Church Center after the church canceled its contract with union cleaning contractor Paris Maintenance in favor of a cheaper bid from non-union Benjamin Enterprises.

With the assistance of the union, workers are protesting what they are calling the "unlawful termination" and have reached out to the new contractor to see about getting their jobs back, the story stated.

In a letter addressed to presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, president of the church''s house of deputies, the workers wrote: "We have called Benjamin Enterprises and asked to keep our jobs, but we haven''t received any response. We believe that the Episcopal Church would not want to create more poverty in this world, so we are hopeful that the church will do everything in its power to help us regain our jobs."

According to the story, workers arrived at work on December 30 only to be told that they no longer worked there, finding notes taped to their lockers reading: "Good luck, we wish you all the best."

Workers are particularly concerned about losing health care benefits, but the church insists the change was made due to budget constraints, the story stated.

Church spokesperson Neva Rae Fox said: "It needs to be clear that looking for a new contract is a normal business procedure."

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