Update: Downtown Denver janitors agree to four-year pact, 8.6 percent pay bump
Update by Michael Roberts: We've now go more details about the vote yesterday that averted a possible strike by 2,300 janitors working in the Denver area.
According to the Service Employees International Union Local 105, the vote in favor of the four-year pact, which was tentatively reached less than 24 hours before the previous contract's expiration, was unanimous.
Yes, 100 percent of Local 105's membership approved the deal, which provides an 8.6 percent pay increase for janitors employed cleaning the overwhelming majority of downtown buildings, with a 7.8 percent bump for those assigned in the suburbs.
In a statement, Patricia Robles, a janitor and member of the bargaining committee, said, "Our fight for a good contract is a fight for a better life. This contract makes sure that our city has good jobs that one can raise a family on, with benefits that allow us to take our children to see a doctor when they're sick. It ensures that janitors and our families can share in the prosperity of Denver."
Look below for our previous coverage.
Original post by Chris Utterback, 2:43 p.m. July 2: On Saturday morning, negotiators representing most of downtown Denver's janitors reached an agreement with janitorial contractors, averting a potentially disastrous strike. Just this afternoon, Service Employees International Union Local 105 members unanimously ratified the new contract, which gives janitors wage and health care improvements.
Marchers file past the World Trade Center on Friday.
Photos by Chris Utterback
The contract will give janitors a 4 percent raise in cost of living and expand family health-care access for thousands of employees -- two of the SEIU's main demands. The contract also expanded the janitor's education fund to include services like a GED program and a labor-management committee that will, in the words of SEIU spokeswoman Cecile Isiero, "expose unscrupulous behavior on the part of contractors."
"This wasn't just about the contract," Isiero says. "This was about coming together, very much in the spirit of the 99 percent."
The Friday march to some of Denver's biggest skyscrapers definitely made an impact; it culminated in a traffic-choking demonstration at Cleveland and Broadway that trapped cars for as much as twenty minutes and invoked the ire of motorists and Denver police, who gently but speedily forced the marchers back to the sidewalk.
Volunteers hold back traffic as marchers circulate on Broadway.
At that point, the prospects looked ripe for a janitorial strike. The Teamsters' Joint Council #3 and the AFL-CIO had issued a sanction for its members to respect picket lines, meaning deliveries and other services could have been interrupted.
Today's vote marks twenty years without a strike for Denver's "Justice for Janitors" movement.
More from our News archive: "Video: Janitors march, vote to authorize potential strike in LoDo."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.