BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Maintenance Contractors of New England today issued the following statement:
In the current bargaining over a new agreement for office service workers between the Maintenance Contractors of New England and Local 615 SEIU, the union’s proposed terms would result in layoffs of thousands of part-time employees who rely on good paying jobs that currently pay $15.95 an hour.
The contract, which expires at midnight Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, covers about 12,500 employees who provide janitorial services throughout Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The union has threatened to strike on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012.
The contractors’ association, Maintenance Contractors of New England (MCNE), has proposed a five-year agreement with $1.25 in wage increases over the term, a 25 percent increase in health insurance contributions, plus increases to the pension fund. In addition, MCNE has offered terms that would positively address the union’s concerns about full time work, increased hours and job security.
By comparison, virtually all collective bargaining settlements reached this year by the SEIU nationally in commercial building service markets have included increases that range from zero to three percent of total labor costs, which includes both wages and benefits. The Local 615 wage and benefit proposal is more than twice what the SEIU has settled for in other building service markets, and considerably more if the union’s proposal to turn part time positions to full time were included.
The Maintenance Contractors have offered a five-year proposal that compares favorably with other SEIU settlements – an average of a 2.25 percent increase a year over the current costs of wages and benefits. With five days to go before the expiration of the agreement, and after 14 days of negotiation, the Maintenance Contractors have offered a fair and reasonable economic package in an indisputably uncertain economic environment.
In contrast, the union’s proposals are for a three-year agreement with wage increases of $1 per hour each year, an average wage increase that exceeds six percent a year and is out of line with virtually anything being negotiated in this continuing uncertain regional, world, and national economy.
The union has further proposed increases of 12.72 to 19.2 percent over the next three years for fully employer-paid health insurance benefits, pension contribution increases, an industry fund, and increased paid time off – proposals inconsistent with any agreements in today’s market. In addition, the union is seeking conversion of all part time positions to full time in every building over 250,000 square feet in New England by July 2013.
MCNE supports good jobs at fair wages for working families; and it supports gradual transition to full time positions as economic and work locations allow. As in the past, the MCNE will ensure that buildings are serviced as needed after Sunday.
BACKGROUND AND FACTS
Currently, there are a total of 12,734 full and part employees covered under the agreement. There are currently 3,659 full time employees.
The hours of work in the New England building service industry are limited and finite. In an operation that employs 50 part time employees who work 20 hours per week, 25 employees would have to be terminated in order for the other 25 employees to become full time.
MCNE has estimated that in order to convert the part time employees in the industry to full time, 1,189 part time employees would have to be laid off in Downtown Boston and 2,352 would have to be laid off in Suburban Massachusetts. In greater New England, half of the current part time workforce employed under the Agreement in the New England region would have to be laid off.
In Boston the public transportation ends around midnight, which makes it unfair to schedule full-time workers for full shifts. For many employees, part time work fits in with their lifestyle, with another member in the family who has a full time job.
Conversion of part time employees to full time employees would increase labor costs by an average of 15% per year to 25% per year depending upon the size of the building.
Providing health benefits to those who work 25 hours (as opposed to only those who work 29 hours or more) would result in an average increase in costs between 29% and 40% depending upon the size of the building.
The 100 percent health coverage that full-time workers get is superior to what most workers receive. Most of the employees don't pay anything for it; those that do make an employee contribution for family coverage at a greatly subsidized rate.
The Union's economic proposal includes wage increases that average 7.8% per year, health fund increases that average 10% to 12% a year, Pension increases for part time workers, new trust fund contributions and costs to convert part time to full time employees with health insurance. That total cost would be well over three times what other SEIU local unions have settled for in other major cities such as New York, Hartford, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
2012 SEIU Settlements elsewhere: NYC 3.15 percent over four years, Philadelphia 4.1 percent over four years, Newark 2.73 percent over four years, Pittsburgh 4.46 percent over four years, Washington, D.C. 2.24 percent over four years, Hartford 3.0 percent over four years, Denver 2.73 percent over four years, Seattle 3.65 percent over four years.
The current Metropolitan Boston Wage Rate of $15.95 is the third highest in the nation of all SEIU Commercial Building Service Agreements behind New York City and San Francisco. The current Health Benefits Costs for the CBD in Boston are tied with New York City as second highest in the nation behind San Francisco. The total base hourly cost of wages and benefits are third highest in the nation behind New York City and San Francisco.
Part-time employees receive the same wage rates as full-time employees. All part time employees are entitled to dental insurance, pension contributions, paid vacations, paid sick days, paid jury duty and paid bereavement leave.
The current wage rate of $15.95 per hour for both full- and part-time workers is at a level such that employees don't leave these jobs, especially in an uncertain economic environment. A conversion process to more full-time work based upon employee turnover takes longer in a market where wages are high.