2008-10-15 / Front Page

Gioia Protests Janitor Firings At Queens DOE Building

Updated 10-17-08

Gioia Protests Janitor Firings At Queens DOE Building


City Councilmember Eric Gioia (l.) this past Wednesday joined members and officers of Local 32BJ, the largest property service union in the country, to protest firing of 12 office cleaners at city Department of Education  Queens headquarters at 44-36 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City  by their employer, Temco Service Industries.

Local 32BJ office cleaners were joined by City Councilmember Eric Gioia this past Wednesday at the New York City Department of Education Queens headquarters at 44-36 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City to protest the abrupt termination of a majority of the building’s cleaners. The building in Long Island City houses the DOE’s Office of School Food, the Office of Pupil Transportation, the office of the Public Schools Athletic League and the Division of School Facilities. 

Gioia, a former member of 32BJ, who worked nights as a janitor to put himself through college, stood with workers to call on Temco to reinstate the jobs of 12 fired janitors.  “Temco should look at their own executive pay before they fire any of these workers who showed up on time and made this building as clean as it could be,” Gioia declared. “As New York enters difficult financial times, the city needs to do a better job of finding fat to trim rather than firing working people who are struggling to make it. During these tough times we need to recommit to the values that make us the city we are—that people who work hard and do right have to be able to provide for their families.”

The 12 office cleaners working at the Queens headquarters recently received less than two weeks notice from Temco Service Industries that their jobs would be eliminated. The cut, which comprises more than half of the building’s cleaning staff, leaves only nine cleaners to maintain the DOE warehouse and office space. As a result of the firings, the remaining workers maintain they will work nearly double the hours at the same rate in order to maintain the building at the current level.

Other union locals rallied with Local 32BJ to protest the firing of two-thirds of the office cleaners at Department of Education Queens headquarters in Long Island City this past Wednesday, October 15.

“We know the city is facing tough economic times, but Temco and the DOE acted irresponsibly in deciding to hastily cut more than 50 percent of the building’s cleaning force,” Local 32BJ Secretary-Treasurer Hector Figueroa said. “We’re not going to sit idly by and watch these workers continuously get picked off.” 
Maria Valencia of Elmhurst was one of the cleaners who were terminated last week. “I have responsibilities,” she said. “The mortgage, the bills, my son’s college tuition, I’m so scared.”

Joseph Adams of South Jamaica is another cleaner who was fired from the DOE building. “I’ve worked here for 15 years and it’s just not fair. I had open-heart surgery and I need my job,” he said. Losing his job means he will be losing all of his medical benefits.

Local 32BJ plans more demonstrations, until these cleaners are returned to their jobs. With more than 100,000 members, including 70,000 in New York City, Local 32BJ is the largest property service union in the country.


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