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Supporters Rally For the Courant’s Cleaning Staff

by Hugh McQuaid | Sep 28, 2011 4:32pm
(7) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Business, Labor

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Armed with flags and a bull horn on Wednesday, union members rallied outside the offices of the Hartford Courant for eight janitorial workers whose jobs are on the line if the newspaper declines to renew its contract their company.

The employees of Capitol Cleaning are concerned that the state’s largest newspaper will choose to hire non-unionized workers, leaving them out of a job as soon as Oct. 1.

According to Lievanna Gore, the Courant’s administrator of marketing and creative services, the contract ran out on June 1 and the company has been reviewing its options.

“The Courant has been actively soliciting and reviewing proposals from a number of janitorial services providers, including Capitol Cleaning. At this time we have not made a final decision on a new provider. In the interim Capitol Cleaning continues to provide office janitorial services at our facilities,” she said in a statement.

The paper will continue to communicate directly with the company’s president as it comes to a decisions, Gore said.

The workers gathered in Hartford Wednesday said they felt out of the loop and frustrated. Building cleaner Ramon Garcia said he felt like the company was giving him the run-around. He said he’d been working there for 15 years and suddenly he could be out of work by Monday.

“How am I going to pay my mortgage now?” he asked. “I’ve got a mortgage. I’ve got two kids, I’ve got two car payments. It gets rough.”

Garcia, a Hartford resident, said the move will likely take jobs from people in the city and give them to folks from other parts of the state who are willing to work for less money and benefits.

“You hear about [layoffs] all the time in the news but when it really hits home it’s ridiculous,” he said.

Wojciech Pirog, a field organizer for 32BJ SEIU, said when union workers lose their jobs it creates a spiral effect. If the Courant decides to go non-union to save money, other companies may look to do the same.

“If it happens here it’s going to hurt the whole community,” he said.

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

Shouting into the bullhorn at the paper’s offices across the street, Pirog said that’s no excuse.

“The Hartford Courant has thrown away its longtime janitors like old newspapers in the recycling bin. We all know the Hartford Courant is financially bankrupt. But today we also know they are morally bankrupt also.”

At that point a Hartford police officer told Pirog that without a permit to use the bullhorn, he would have to stop. He continued shouting without one.

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(7) Comments

posted by: Durham | September 28, 2011  10:15pm

This is unbeleivible! How can a left-wing, democratic-oriented business be looking to hurt the labor?

I don’t get it, do you?

posted by: Terry D. Cowgill | September 29, 2011  6:35am

Terry D. Cowgill

I feel bad for the custodians who might lose their jobs. But honestly, Tribune is bankrupt. I’m sure it’s creditors would love to see the company save money anyway it can. And if hiring a less expensive cleaning company enables The Courant to avoid more cuts to the newsroom, then I am all for it.

posted by: gompers | September 29, 2011  9:23am

I have seen the succession of corporations and now foul-mouthed billionaire, Sam Zell, take the Courant from being a profitable and excellent newspaper to being a near bankrupt disaster.  Zell has shown that he has no respect for his readers, let alone his country.  He has even transferred the customer service phone line to the Philippines.  I have spent a lot of time urging friends and family to hang in their with the Courant, despite its conservative editorial bent of the last thirty years.  But, if Zell and company decide that in order to live a billionaire lifestyle that they must take it out of the hides of the janitors, I’m through as a 35 year subscriber.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | September 29, 2011  10:42am

GoatBoyPHD

The Courant’s Conservative Editorial Bent?

Gompers. That was priceless!

There’s a little conservatism creeping in these days but that’s more a reaction to overt fiscal abuse in the public sector.

posted by: Mansfield1 | September 29, 2011  10:45am

Terry,

We’d all like a better class of news coverage but just once I’d like people to deal with the qeustion: “If 80% of Amercians work for Wal-Mart wages does democracy, never mind a middle class, survive?”  70% of our economy is consumer demand but business never seems to remember that.

posted by: sharewhut | September 29, 2011  11:18am

Gompers,
I gave up on my 15 years of subscribing earlier this year on editorial grounds. And honestly, I haven’t missed it. In the internet age, the only benefit to the printed edition is for looking at during lunch break at work if you don’t have computer access or for the coupons on Sunday if you don’t want to spend $$ on ink to print them out off computer. Oh, and to line the bird cage, but you can get a big roll of craft paper cheaper than a subscription.

posted by: sharewhut | September 29, 2011  1:51pm

Goatboy,
Current <sp> has been trending conservative, especially with regards to unions public or private. Makes you wonder if their developing stance was in a way setting up this move and others against their own unionized employees.
Not saying that they can’t and shouldn’t look for cheaper.