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Courant Declines To Run Janitor Ad

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 26, 2011 5:09pm
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Business, Media Matters, Hartford

SEIU 32BJ ad the Courant wouldn’t run

The Hartford Courant elected not to publish an advertisement from a local union this week after the state’s largest newspaper opted to not renew a longstanding cleaning contract with the union’s members, the group says.

The employees of Capitol Cleaning will lose their jobs on Dec. 12 after the company lost a competitive bidding process for the cleaning contract at the Courant’s Broad Street headquarters.

The employees’ union, SEIU 32BJ, attempted to buy a large ad in the paper criticizing the decision. The ad featured a photo of Epifania Dejesus, one of the janitors who had been working at the Courant’s building for 16 years.

DeJesus is quoted above the her photo:

“My husband had a stroke and both of us depend on my income and health insurance. I am stressed out because I think, what am I going to do?”

The ad alleges that the paper’s publisher, Richard Graziano, chose to end the contract with the unionized cleaners to maximize profits.

In an email, Jennifer Humes, spokeswoman for CT1 Media a conglomerate that includes the Courant, did not offer a comment on the decision not to run the union’s ad.

She said the company has been taking bids to consolidate cleaning services at the headquarters. The company that eventually won the bid is the cleaning service that currently cleans the manufacturing area of the building, she said. A union official said that they believe the company is replacing Capitol Cleaning with Pressroom Cleaners, which is nonunion.

“This decision is based strictly on the competitive bidding process and will allow CT1 Media to remain competitive as a business,” Humes said.

Humes said Capitol Cleaning will likely remain the cleaning company for the eight other Courant facilities in the state, pending successful contract negotiations.

The newspaper, which is owned by Tribune Co., has been in bankruptcy for years and made staffing cuts to its news department as recently as July.

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(13) Comments

posted by: ocoandasoc | October 26, 2011  10:54pm

This is a bogus issue. The Courant has every right to go with the low bidder for their cleaning services. Why shouldn’t they? This is just an SEIU intimidation tactic to keep more businesses with high public profiles from moving their business to lower cost non-SEIU cleaning companies. The Courant should actually consider taking ALL their cleaning business elsewhere. The other cleaning companies employ people too, and I’m sure they work as building cleaners because they need to earn a living and pay for their health insurance just as much as Capitol’s employees do. Or does the SEIU claim that their members are more deserving for some reason?

posted by: Fatalberto61 | October 27, 2011  4:11am

Where were State Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, and Hartford City Council Members Luis Cotto and Larry Deutsch when 100’s of Hartford Courant employees were walked out the door over the past years ?
Never a peep from them , nope , ‘cause The Courant has no Union for them to pander to .
Yup .

I don’t like to see anyone lose any job .
But these people should be angry at Capitol Cleaning for losing the bid , and looking to their union to ensure they will be found positions at other sites .
The Courant owes these workers no more respect than is due their own employees , and that ain’t much lemme tell ya .

On Graziano and the rest of the bigshots getting bonuses , that is an issue of no concern to Capitol Cleaning or the union .
Nunna their business at all .

If Courant employees have an issue with these bonuses , and the rank and file not getting squat other than being told “you’re lucky you have a job” , that I can’t fault them for .

posted by: Terry D. Cowgill | October 27, 2011  6:45am

Terry D. Cowgill

I agree, ocoandasoc. But the Courant should have run the ad. From a PR standpoint, refusing to run the ad gives the story more legs than it would otherwise have had.
Besides, there is money to be made off a large ad—maybe $10K or more. Dumb decision by the suits at Tribune.

posted by: Hebee | October 27, 2011  7:21am

Good for the Courant! Is the SEIU Union saying that union workers need the job more than the non-union workers? These Union Leaders are desperately trying to protect their own jobs (paid for with members’ union dues) and not those of union janitors.  Non-union workers simply lack the financial means to employ bully tactics in an expensive forum like the Courant. (Though, they achieved part of their goal as we are talking about them here and elsewhere.) They lost the contract because Unions over charge on all contracts in order to bank roll their over-paid leaders’ salaries, finance their propaganda campaigns and load the Legislatures with Union-Friendly Lackeys. Unions are 21st Century Dinosaurs and Organized Labor’s Ice Age is right around the corner.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | October 27, 2011  10:41am

GoatBoyPHD

Yes the story gets more legs because it wasn’t run. But legs where?

If the Courant’s resident Mo Dowd moralist took a stand with her cohorts the opposition might get somewhere.

Instead, as is usual, they do their head-in-the-sand thing and rail about other businesses and their moral failings.

posted by: timelord | October 27, 2011  11:21am

The building is still going to get cleaned.  Who’s to say that Mrs. DeJesus will miss even one day of work?  Maybe she’ll work for the new cleaning company doing the same thing she’s been doing for 16 years.

posted by: I am one of the 99% | October 27, 2011  12:36pm

For all of you out there Mr. Graziano will be putting money into his pocket while he professed in his editorial of the need to create jobs while laying off hard working janitors for earning a descent living. So for all you guys are there making a good living do you feel that this is right? Getting bonuses at the expenses of poor people.

posted by: 32BJ spokesperson | October 27, 2011  1:19pm

Of course, the Courant has the right not to publish an ad, but that misses the point. The important question is why wouldn’t they run it? Why would they stand in the way of free expression and giving space to both sides and all perspectives? The paper’s publisher should be subjected to the same scrutiny that the paper gives to other businesses in the city. 

The ad is factual, although it may raise uncomfortable questions about the paper’s own commitment to protecting good jobs in Hartford.

It’s important to realize that cleaning jobs at the Courant now pay a minimum of $13.50 per hour with health insurance and a retirement plan. In contrast, nonunion cleaning jobs typically pay around the minimum wage – nearly 40 percent less – with little to no benefits. The impending loss of these jobs is not just a hit for the eight cleaning workers who will be out of work. It is a loss for the community - as more good jobs are replaced with poverty-wage work. Minimum-wage workers have less to spend on goods and services, which hurts local businesses and the economy. Working families with no health insurance often have to turn to government-subsidized programs, which puts taxpayers on the hook.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | October 27, 2011  2:19pm

GoatBoyPHD

Business Ethics at the Courant? Ask the employees!

http://tinyurl.com/3gx4jj2

Some work hard and put in considervale OT to work in big time media!

Courant Publisher Involved In Employee’s DUI Incident

By DAVID OWENS | The Hartford Courant

April 24, 2009

FARMINGTON - Richard J. Graziano, who is also general manager of Fox 61, was in a car with a Fox employee when she was first arrested about 1 a.m. in a parking lot at Tunxis Fore Driving Range on Route 4,

The female Fox employee was taken into police custody and charged with operating under the influence. Police confiscated her license.

Police say they released her to Graziano.  She was then arrested again, elsewhere on Route 4 about 3:40 a.m.

posted by: gompers | October 27, 2011  3:29pm

The point lost on some of these bloggers is that the new company will have to meet a lower salary and benefit rate for these already low wage workers.  Then these new workers will qualify for tax payer provided food stamps and health care.  Sam Zell, the idiot billionaire who took a profitable Courant and drove it into the ground, now gets his workforce subsidized by every blogger who just responded and laughs all the way to the bank.

posted by: bicyclereporter | October 28, 2011  1:44am

union jobs = a liveable wage while a minimum wage cannot support anyone in this economy.

newspapers almost always publish all folks from most of the parties (D, R, G, and I) for a healthy set of opinions, so why not in this case?

even if they’re evil, at least they save face and show they can pretend to have compassion.

posted by: sickofit | October 28, 2011  5:55am

It isn’t about the Unions, as the header says, it’s about the Courant refusing to run an ad that’s critical of them. The Courant has the absolute right to put the cleaning job up for bid and choose the lowest bidder to save money. But, if at the same time they are giving extravagant bonuses to management then they are subject to deserved criticism. You can’t have it both ways and escape criticism. They should have just run the ad, because now it’s News and others will be covering the story. Stupid decision, take that guy’s bonus away. ;>)

posted by: Matt OConnor | October 28, 2011  5:28pm

Some may be asking why Mr. Graziano’s decision to toss out its long-time building cleaning services contractor matters to anyone other the eight hard-working men and women directly affected by the decision. Losing their union means they will be earning less and losing vital benefits—and potentially losing their jobs altogether.

But losing good union jobs means fewer jobs with decent, livable wages and quality, affordable healthcare in a community that has lost too many jobs already. Households all over the Hartford area will feel the impact if the Courant puts the management bonuses cited in the ad ahead of the economic well-being of the community.

That’s because unions set a pay standard that non-union employers follow, which boosts purchasing power for individual workers and their families. And that’s exactly what all credible experts say is needed to revitalize the economy.

For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized—but whose industry is at least 25% unionized—earns 5% more than similar workers in less unionized industries.

The reality is that the impact of unions on total non-union wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.

In other words, strong unions aren’t just good for their members. They’re good for all workers, too.