Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Court says no to protecting janitors' jobs

December 30, 2009
PITTSBURGH — In a 6-1 decision written by Justice Jane Cutler Greenspan, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a Pittsburgh ordinance designed to protect janitors from losing their jobs in downtown office buildings violates Home Rule law, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Since the Pittsburgh City Council enacted an ordinace in 2004, building owners of facilities with more than 100,000 square feet of floor space, if switching security, janitorial, maintenance, stationary engineering or window washing contractors, must have the new firm hire the old firm''s workers.
According to the story, if there are too many workers, some can be let go in order of seniority or fired for just cause; otherwise, they can''t be fired or laid off for 180 days.
Several building managers challenged the law in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court and the Commonwealth Court, claiming that it violated their right to contract, the story stated.
Although Pennsylvania state law prohibits municipalities from placing requirements on businesses, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review the case, the story noted.
Justice Jane Cutler Greenspan said: "By requiring employers to retain certain employees for approximately half a year, the ordinance exemplifies the very essence of the invasive regulations that Home Rule is designed to prevent and, indeed, strictly prohibits."
With the passing of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decission, janitors working in downtown Pittsburgh office buildings have few protections from losing their jobs if service providers are changed, the story added.
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