Safeway Janitors OK Wage Hike

More than 450 janitors who clean Safeway supermarkets in Northern California voted late last month to ratify a tentative collective bargaining agreement with four janitorial services contractors employed by Safeway. The agreement maintains health care and pension benefits, and raises the base wage rate for experienced workers up to $14.05 per hour, above industry standards, according

OAKLAND, Calif. — More than 450 janitors who clean Safeway supermarkets in Northern California voted late last month to ratify a tentative collective bargaining agreement with four janitorial services contractors employed by Safeway.

The agreement maintains health care and pension benefits, and raises the base wage rate for experienced workers up to $14.05 per hour, above industry standards, according to SEIU United Service Workers West, Local 1877 here, the union representing the janitors.

In a statement, ABM Janitorial Services, New York, one of the four contractors, said, “We are pleased to achieve resolution in the mutual best interest of workers, employers and customers. Workers will receive higher wages and enhanced health benefits, and the agreement provides protection for all customers.” The other three contractors are Premier Floor Care, Crystal Cleaning Service and Alliance Maintenance Solutions (AMS).

Negotiations had been ongoing since last September. Although Safeway's contractors did not accept union proposals for “green cleaning” standards including non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products, the new agreement does address some of the union's concerns. The agreement will implement a joint “labor-management solution” to health and safety problems, so that janitors can raise issues, such as safety training, in regularly held labor-management meetings.

Safeway's contractors also agreed to provide information to the union regarding the health effects of the chemicals and cleaning products used in the stores, provide necessary safety equipment as required by law, and work with Safeway to quickly replace malfunctioning janitorial equipment. The agreement also includes a provision to establish a streamlined, efficient process for injured janitors to file workers' compensation claims.