Janitors to vote on new contract Saturday

After two days of negotiations, the Service Employees International Union, the labor union representing USC custodial staff, has reached an agreement about the workers’ labor contract with their employer, Aramark. USC service workers will be voting on whether or not to accept the terms of the new labor contract on Saturday at the SEIU headquarters.

The negotiations, which concluded Wednesday night after months of back-and-forth dialogue, had focused strictly on economic issues, such as workers’ wages and health care benefits, for the past several days. Janitors, represented by their union, are asking for wages at least $1.50 above the minimum wage, according to SEIU spokesman Edmundo Garcia. The terms of the new contract have not been released to the public.

Representatives from USC, which subcontracts its custodial staff through Aramark, were not present at the negotiations. Rallies on campus in August and earlier this week have urged the University to intervene by pressuring Aramark to meet the janitors’ demands, despite not being their direct employer.

The vote, which was originally set for Friday, was postponed in order to allow the maximum number of workers to attend, according to Garcia.

If workers decide to reject the terms of the contract, they will also take a vote to decide whether or not to go on strike. Garcia, however, told the Daily Trojan that he is hopeful for a positive and cooperative outcome.

Janitors have been negotiating with Aramark since their contract expired in June. According to Garcia, working without a contract is dangerous, because the workers lack a written guarantee of their wages and working conditions.

“Workers that have a contract are going to have fewer issues at the work site, because the parameters are set,” Garcia said. “There’s not an arbitrary, subjective decision-making by a supervisor. Everybody knows what they’re going to be getting – I think that’s fair.”