UNION CHARGES CONTRACTOR, STORES CONSPIRE AGAINST JANITORS

LOS ANGELES -- Janitors in southern California filed a class action lawsuit last week against Albertson's, Ralphs Grocery Co. and Vons Cos., and Encompass Staffing Services, the retailers' cleaning contractor.According to a union spokeswoman, janitors are forced to work excessive hours without overtime pay, sometimes at wages below minimum wage. She said the standard workweek is eight straight hours

LOS ANGELES -- Janitors in southern California filed a class action lawsuit last week against Albertson's, Ralphs Grocery Co. and Vons Cos., and Encompass Staffing Services, the retailers' cleaning contractor.

According to a union spokeswoman, janitors are forced to work excessive hours without overtime pay, sometimes at wages below minimum wage. She said the standard workweek is eight straight hours a day without breaks.

She also said some janitors work as many as seven days a week and go several months without a day off; and, in violation of state law, the retailers pay the janitors in cash or personal checks, without deductions for payroll taxes or Social Security.

The complaint says the janitors receive little or no overtime compensation and work without paid vacations, sick or bereavement leave, health insurance, pension or any other employment-related benefits.

The union said it is being joined in filing the suit by a coalition of civil rights and labor lawyers, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and the Educational Fund.