Denver Janitors Win Historic Victory: A Path to $15 in New Agreement

Janitors and cleaning contractors agree to invest in good jobs that support families and build the economy

DSC_0670DENVER – Late yesterday, Denver Metro janitors with SEIU Local 105 and cleaning contractors agreed to a new union contract that improves their ability to support their families and meet the high living costs of the Denver Metro area. With this historic contract, janitors and their families won wage increases over the next four years resulting in a minimum of $15 an hour in 2020.

42The victory follows three years of Fight for $15 actions in Denver and across the nation in which tens of thousands of people went to the streets with the message and helped win wage increases for millions of people. Earlier this year, security guards with SEIU at DIA also won $15 an hour.

Hundreds of janitors and community allies organized multiple events during the weeks of negotiations, including a June 15 rally where janitors held large brooms and mops high above their heads and marched through downtown to send a message to building owners and cleaning companies that they were united and committed to a fair wage.

DSC_0857The master contract covering more than 2,400 janitors with 27 cleaning companies operating in almost 600 buildings around metro Denver will take effect on July 2. The new contract guarantees:

  • Janitors will earn $15 an hour in 2020 in a majority of the Denver Metro area.

  • Expansion of affordable child healthcare coverage to include janitors working in Jefferson, Douglas, and Boulder counties.

  • No healthcare cost increases, allowing wage gains to go toward basic living expenses.

A team of seven janitors negotiated the new contract with representatives covering 27 janitorial companies. The last contract was negotiated in 2012 during the recession when Denver real estate was hit hard. Understanding the state of the economy, janitors accepted only modest increases that failed to keep up with Denver’s skyrocketing cost of living.

2016 Property Services Bargaining Team - Magdalena Astudillo, Ron Ruggiero, Veronica Alonso, Patricia Robles, Susana Renteria, Cristina Rodriguez, Isabel Valverde, Angeles Oñate
2016 Property Services Bargaining Team: Magdalena Astudillo, Ron Ruggiero, Veronica Alonso, Patricia Robles, Susana Renteria, Cristina Rodriguez, Isabel Valverde, Angeles Oñate

“This victory means a lot to me and my family. Right now my wages are so low I can’t even afford to take my children to the doctor when they are sick,” said Cristina Rodriguez, a janitor for ABLE. “But $15 allows me to raise my family with dignity.”

“We have helped raise the living standards for workers in the Denver Metro Area and winning a path to $15 will help the local economy for years to come,” said Patricia Robles, a janitor for ABM and Vice President of SEIU Local 105. “It shows other workers that when you unite together, you can win.”

Colorado’s commercial real estate market is booming – vacancy rates are at a 15-year low and rents at a record high, including an almost eight percent increase in 2015 alone. The cleaning and maintenance provided by janitors allows building owners to reap record profits.DSC_0673

The janitors’ 30-year effort — called Justice For Janitors — is a campaign by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Fight for $15 sparked a nationwide movement for $15/hour and a union among many industries when fast-food workers walked off their jobs in November, 2012. The movement has called on profitable corporations to stop paying workers wages so low that they can’t afford basic needs without taxpayers’ help through public assistance programs like food stamps.

SEIU Local 105 unites 7,100 healthcare and property service workers, including janitors and security guards. Together we work to build strength for all working people, on the job and in our communities. Justice for Janitors, a SEIU campaign, has helped underpaid workers organize to raise wages and increase basic benefits and job security for janitors and their families.


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Press Coverage: 9News, The Colorado IndependantTelemundoUnivision