32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents Tufts janitors and 18,000 other workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, organized a rally at Boston Common on Saturday, Sept.10, as the contracts of janitors from Tufts, Harvard, Boston office buildings and other institutions are approaching their negotiating deadlines of Sept. 30. Union members and allies gathered to demand higher wages, health insurance for full-time workers and more pathways to full-time employment, according to a press release from 32BJ SEIU. The janitors were joined by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who expressed her solidarity with their fight, sharing that her own father was a janitor.
“I also saw how important a paycheck is to keep a family together and so I wanted to be here today for exactly one reason and that is to say, in this fight for fair wages: I’m with you, all the way,” she said.
Also in attendance were Tufts janitors, members of Tufts Labor Coalition (TLC) and other Tufts students expressing solidarity. Selida Pol, a janitor on Tufts’ Boston campus, said she hopes the new contract will include better wages, more respect in the workplace, a more reasonable workload, the maintenance of employer-paid health insurance and bereavement days.
Pol, translated from Spanish by TLC member Nicole Joseph, said that this rally is important because C&W Services, a contractor hired by Tufts, and union representatives work to negotiate a contract by the deadline of Sept. 30.
“It’s clear the administration will know this [rally] is happening,” she said.