While everyone has been dealing with the flooding in Houston this past week, a 250-strong janitors' union strike of Houston's office building janitors began, which may lead to a flood of papers around your desk if an agreement isn't reached, according to the Houston Chronicle. The janitors are members of the Service Employees International Union ("SEIU") who represent them in contract negotiations.
Currently, the janitors involved are paid $8.35 an hour and make an average of $8,684 per year, according to The Nation. They are looking to get a raise to $10 per hour over the next 3 years, while the employers are offering a raise of $0.50 per hour over the next 5 years. Some of the janitors claim to have been retaliated against for joining the SEIU as well.
What's next for the janitors?
The janitors' contract expired May 31 for the 3,200 janitors represented by the SEIU, according to the Chronicle. This means that while both sides have offered ideas of what the salary part of the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") should be, there have not been open negotiations between the two sides about how to move forward on their disagreement.
Generally in this situation, the two sides would sit down to extended negotiations to determine wages, benefits, and other details of the employment. Instead, because of the seeming refusal to negotiate by the employers some of the union members have decided to strike.
A strike is an organized refusal to work by a group of employees. Strikes are allowed under the labor laws, but could be prohibited by the CBA. Since the janitors' contract has expired, there is no prohibition for them to strike. In fact, the janitors' ability to strike is for situations like this where the employer refuses to negotiate a new contract.
If the employers refuse to meet and bargain with the SEIU and the janitors, there could be a lawsuit filed with the National Labor Relations Board for failure to bargain in Good Faith. Good Faith is an elusive term, but there have been plenty of cases to show that refusing to bargain is not good faith bargaining under the labor laws.
We'll see whether the janitors' union strike ends with higher wages, or just floods of dirty office buildings.
- Need an Employment Attorney in Houston? (FindLaw)
- Twinkies Strike: Hostess Asks Judge to Toss Union Contract (FindLaw's In House Blog)
- Cast of 'Jersey Shore' Goes on Strike? (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice Blog)