Two local unions, 32BJ SEIU New England 615 and Unite Here Local 26 reached new tentative agreements in September on the eve of threatened strikes.

32BJ SEIU New England 615

32BJ SEIU New England 615 represents 13,000 janitors in the Greater Boston area, including about 500 in Rhode Island, working at Fidelity, Providence College, TF. Green and other offices. Negotiations for a new, multi-year contract began last August between 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service union in the country, and a consortium of the largest contractors in the industry, called Maintenance Contractors of New England. On September 24th, the membership voted to authorize the 32BJ bargaining committee to call a strike if they couldn’t come to a fair deal with the contractors.

On September 30th, the union secured a tentative, 4-year agreement with the contractors just hours before contract expiration. Over the course of the deal, RI Future reports that “Rhode Island janitors now earning $13.15 will see their pay increase to $14.20 over the course of the new contract.” The tentative agreement also expands employer-paid healthcare to family members of full-time employees, opens a path to full-time work for part-timers, and includes a new legal assistance benefit for all members.

“This is the contract we need to support our families and communities,” said bargaining committee member Lucy Gonzalez, who cleans terminals at Logan Airport. “I feel relieved that with this contract I will be able to keep up with the rising cost of living and provide quality healthcare to my children. I know thousands of other union members will be doing the same, all of us are supporting our communities and building our local economy.”

Unite Here Local 26 — Pawtucket School Lunch Workers

On September 22nd, Unite Here Local 26, representing 81 Pawtucket school lunch workers, reached an agreement with Aramark, who manages the program, on a three year deal that gives the employees a $1.20 hour raise over the life of the contract.

The previous contract had expired in April, and on Septermber 8th, the union membership had unanimously authorized a one day strike for Friday, September 23rd.

Melanie Plante, a truck driver based out of Jenks Junior High, described the victory: “We will proudly be serving the kids tomorrow. This new agreement will help all of us improve our lives and raise healthy, happy families.”

Unite Here Local 26 represents 9,000 hotel, food service, airport, and casino workers across RI and MA.