Four janitors with 8 years of experience cleaning car dealerships in Wayzata were fired June 9, the same day they joined a Twin Cities-wide strike for better wages and working conditions.
Suspecting retaliation was the motive behind their release, the janitors and their supporters are pressuring the dealerships and their cleaning contractor, ROC Commercial Cleaning, to do the right thing and reinstate the four workers.
Alicia Yopihua, Romualdo Romero, Julio Romero and Demecio Romero – all four related – say the subcontractor that employed them to clean Lexus of Wayzata, Village Chevrolet and the Auto Bargain Center Lot told them the day of the strike that it had lost its contract with ROC, meaning the four were out of work.
During a demonstration in St. Paul on the day of the strike, Demecio Romero accused ROC of attempting to intimidate workers who were supportive of the strike.
“ROC is threatening to take retaliation against us when we go back to the dealerships that we clean,” Romero said through a translator. “That’s not OK.”
All workers, union and non-union, have a legally protected right to strike – it is “protected group activity,” according to the National Labor Relations Act – and workers cannot be fired or punished for exercising it.
[Call Lexus of Wayzata, 952-476-6111, and Village Chevrolet, 952-473-5444, and tell them workers should not be fired for exercising their rights.]
CTUL, the Twin Cities-based worker center that has been organizing retail cleaning workers for the past eight years, filed a complaint against ROC with the National Labor Relations Board alleging unfair treatment. But it could be months before the NLRB process is resolved; fired workers are left without a paycheck in the meantime.
That’s a big blow to the family members, who live under the same roof and who joined the strike, in part, because they weren’t earning enough to meet their needs. Demecio Romero said his hourly pay actually has declined in the eight years he’s worked cleaning the Wayzata dealerships.
“What they pay is not sufficient for me and my family,” he said June 9. “We want them to pay what’s fair to their workers.”
Supporters are also being asked to call the dealerships, tell them to take responsibility for work being done on their property and demand the fired janitors be reinstated (see the flyer for details).
CTUL also plans to ramp up public pressure with delegations to the dealerships and other companies that use ROC as their cleaning contractor, beginning this weekend. Monitor CTUL’s Facebook page for dates and times.