Keeping Denver’s buildings safe and sanitized

Local janitors rally to celebrate reinstatement of cut hours


Janitors are on the frontlines of the pandemic, keeping the buildings clean during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“Janitors in our city will continue to do what it takes to keep our communities safe during the pandemic,” said Patricia Robles, vice president of property services for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 105, in a news release. Robels has been a janitor in Denver’s buildings for 30 years. “With a vaccine on its way, it’s imperative that we maintain the high level of trust our community has in knowing that the buildings where we work and patronize are safe and sanitized.”

On Dec. 9, SEIU Local 105 organized a car rally in downtown Denver to celebrate an agreement with Commercial Cleaning Systems — a large cleaning contractor that serves the Denver-metro area — to fully reinstate janitors’ hours.

The rally was originally planned to be in protest to Commercial Cleaning Systems abruptly cutting the workers’ hours during the pandemic and just before the holiday season, states a news release from SEIU Local 105 announcing the event.

The reduction of hours affected hundreds of Denver’s janitors - some got their hours cut and others were laid off, said Eva Martinez who has been a janitor in Denver’s buildings for 26 years. This reduction in hours not only affected the workers’ income, but also their health insurance, Martinez added.

But a janitor’s responsibility of properly sanitizing surfaces and work areas to ensure the public’s safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t go away — in fact, they were tasked with the same amount of work, but less hours to do it, states the news release.

“Today we’re relaying the message that Commercial Cleaning Systems did the right thing” by reinstating the janitors’ hours, said Magda Astudillo who has been a janitor in Denver’s buildings for 20 years.

According to the SEIU website, Local 105 represents more than 8,000 people who are employed in healthcare, janitorial, security and airports throughout Colorado and the southwest U.S. Internationally, the union consists of 2 million people throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, states the SEIU website.

In May, SEIU Local 105 organized a car rally in downtown Denver during contract negotiations, which happens every four years. On topic this year was personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves and masks for janitors; proper cleaning and sanitizing disinfectant; wages; and maintaining health-care benefits, said David Fernandez, a spokesperson for the SEIU.

They did receive their PPE, Fernandez said, and there was an agreement reached to extend the current contract to June 2021 which is when negotiations will take place again.

“We want this dialogue to continue so we can keep our city safe,” Astudillo said, “and so that our janitors and essential workers are being treated with respect.”


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