Cleveland-area janitors protest against Sherwin-Williams over concerns for losing jobs

Cleveland-area janitors protest against Sherwin-Williams over concerns for losing jobs

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Dozens of union members demonstrated against Sherwin-Williams over concerns of losing janitorial jobs.

A press conference and gathering with Service Employees International Union Local 1 was held Thursday afternoon in downtown Cleveland.

“Just because we clean toilets or stock paper and they sit at a desk with collared shirts and ties, (that) doesn’t make them any better than us," said Tiffany Gallego.

Sherwin-Williams said the janitorial service contracted by the company did not meet cleaning expectations. Numerous complaints were made by employees regarding the cleanliness of the building, according to the company.

“I come here faithfully every day and do my job and do the best I can do... so I reject that,” said longtime cleaning employee Terry Eddy.

“That job pays my bills. The job provides for me and my child, because she can’t provide for herself,” Eddy added. “If I don’t have any money, I don’t have a way to live. I’d be out on the streets.”

The company made the decision to move away from ABM cleaning services at the end of 2019, impacting nearly 30 janitorial positions in favor of privatized and non-union employees.

Corporate officials released a statement regarding Thursday’s demonstration:

"As an employer, Sherwin-Williams is committed to providing a clean and safe work environment for its employees. This obligation is essential to retaining and attracting top talent to support the growth of our Company.

Sherwin-Williams contracts with ABM for cleaning services at various Sherwin-Williams sites. One of those sites is our global headquarters building located at 101 West Prospect Avenue in Cleveland, OH.

ABM is the employer of those who provide cleaning services at the headquarters building, not Sherwin-Williams. The nonmanagerial employees of ABM who provide cleaning services at the headquarters building, approximately 30 workers, are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Again, these workers are employed by ABM, not by Sherwin-Williams.

Sherwin-Williams employs both unionized and nonunionized employees. The Company does not have any employees who are members of the SEIU.

Regretfully, there have been consistent performance and quality issues with the cleaning services provided by ABM over an extended period of time. These issues were reported on a regular basis to ABM, yet the issues were never resolved. After giving ABM repeated opportunities to rectify the issues, Sherwin-Williams provided ABM notice on December 30, 2019 that it would no longer utilize its services at its headquarters building.

Effective February 1, 2020, A-Quality Facility Services (AQFS) will provide cleaning services at Sherwin-Williams headquarters. AQFS has informed Sherwin-Williams it is willing to consider individuals on the ABM cleaning staff for employment at AQFS. The contact name, address and phone number of AQFS was provided to the SEIU on January 14, 2020.

Regarding activities related to public funding for a new headquarters, Sherwin-Williams continues to evaluate buildings and land in Cleveland, NE Ohio, across the state of Ohio, and other states to make sure we find the long-term opportunity to best serve our customers, employees, shareholders, and communities where we do business. No decision on the new headquarters has been made. When we have updates, we’ll issue an official announcement."

The move from the current headquarters location at 101 West Prospect Avenue comes as the company is reviewing its facilities requirements to meet the needs of customers and employees.

The current site has been the headquarters for Sherwin-Williams since 1930.

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