Union workers picket due to recent termination of contracts

Picketing with signs that read “Preferred Building Services Save Our Good Jobs,” former janitors and repairpersons protested the termination of their contracts with Villas Parkmerced Wednesday.

Led by union organizer Colin O’Leary from United Service Workers West, the picketers marched around Parkmerced’s leasing offices. O’Leary said the protestors will continue to picket until Preferred Building Services, the new contractors for Parkmerced Villas, sign a new union contract with the original janitor and repairpersons.

When a contractor is terminated and a replacement is hired, the successor contractor is required to send a written offer of employment to every employee of the old contractor, according to California Labor Code Section 1060-1065. O’Leary said that none of the former employees received any offer for work from Preferred Business Services.

Villas Park Merced janitors and handymen picket around Park Merced on Wednesday April 15. They have been terminated and a new crew of janitors by a new contractor will be hired. (Emma Chiang  / Xpress)

Villas Park Merced janitors and handymen picket around Park Merced on Wednesday April 15. They have been terminated and a new crew of janitors by a new contractor will be hired. (Emma Chiang / Xpress)

“There’s a law in California,” O’Leary said. “You have to offer work to existing janitorial workers if a contractor changes under certain situations. Those situations apply here from everything we can tell and they’re not honoring that law.”

The picketing is sanctioned by the San Francisco Labor Council, which means any union member will be within his or her right to not provide service past the picket lines.

Other employees for Parkmerced refused to report to work Wednesday and the Sunset Scavengers, a recology company that collects trash throughout the Sunset District, will not be providing service to Parkmerced until the picket lines go away, according to O’Leary.

O’Leary said that Parkmerced is a long-standing union place and is surprised by their move to bring in a non-unionized contractor and avoid signing a union contract.

In place of the former employees, Preferred Building Services is providing its own janitors and handymen for Parkmerced, according to O’Leary.

Preferred Building Services offered a severance package to the former janitors and handymen, but O’Leary called it a “take-it or leave-it” deal.

Parkmerced management could not be reached for comments.

Romilo Domingo, one of the picketers who lost his job, said he felt forced to take the severance pay.

“It’s not good enough, we want to work,” Domingo said. “We don’t want the money, period. But we’ve been forced to take the money.”

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