Feb 21, 2024 - News

Miami janitors could go on strike amid contract negotiations

illustration of hands in fist wearing medical gloves

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The janitorial workers who keep South Florida's office buildings clean will march to their jobs Wednesday night after deciding whether to authorize a strike.

Why it matters: A strike would impact office buildings from Fort Lauderdale to downtown Miami — a total of 59 million square feet of office space maintained by the 1,500 members of the 32BJ Service Employees International Union.

What's happening: The union is negotiating a new four-year contract with South Florida's major cleaning contractors and demanding higher pay, more vacation days and paid time off, and the creation of additional full-time positions for the majority part-time workforce.

  • Members will vote Wednesday on whether to authorize a strike, which would give the bargaining committee the ability to call for a work stoppage at any time if negotiations don't progress.
  • A mariachi band will provide the soundtrack to the demonstration downtown.

What they're saying: "They are the invisible workforce. The only way they're going to get something is if they organize and if they speak up," the union's Florida district director, Helene O'Brien, tells Axios.

The big picture: Despite a booming commercial office market in Miami, the city ranks last in the nation for janitorial wages among the 10 biggest metropolitan areas, according to a study published by the union.

  • Janitors, most of whom are women in their 50s, make an average of $13.32 per hour, the union says.
  • "This boom doesn't trickle down," O'Brien says.
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