Janitors at Mellon Buildings in Pittsburgh Take Wage Claims to Court of Law with Suit and to Court of Opinion with Ads

American Banker, August 1, 1986 | Go to article overview

Janitors at Mellon Buildings in Pittsburgh Take Wage Claims to Court of Law with Suit and to Court of Opinion with Ads


Janitors at Mellon Buildings in Pittsburgh Take Wage Claims To Court of Law with Suit and to Court of Opinion with Ads

PITTSBURGH -- A dispute over wage and benefit cuts for janitors at two of Mellon Bank Corp.'s buildings has escalated into a full-scale battle, complete with lawsuits, discrimination complaints, and newspaper advertisements.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents the 80 janitors, took the latest step in the six-month fight this week by running ads in the eastern and western editions of the Wall Street Journal under the headline, "The Mellon Question: Why Would a Bank With Assets of $34 Billion Cut Its Janitors to $38 a Week?"

President of the 850,000-member union, John J. Sweeney, and other union representatives tried unsuccessfully Tuesday to meet with Mellon chairman J. David Barnes after holding a rally in Mellon Square, a downtown park across the street from Mr. Barnes' office in Three Mellon Bank Center. They were told Mr. Barnes was not in his office.

"Through advertising and through personal solicitations here and in other cities, we will be asking Mr. Barnes to enter this dispute and help solve it before our 80 hardworking janitors are forced into the food-stamp lines and onto the welfare rolls," Mr. Sweeney said, vowing to make weekly efforts to meet with Mr. Barnes at his home or office.

At the heart of the matter is a decision last February by a Mellon subsidiary, Realty Operating Co., to replace one private janitorial service, National Cleaning Contractors, with another, the newly formed Arcade Maintenance Inc., to clean two buildings of Mellon Bank Center.

At the same time, the union had just agreed to a new contract with National Cleaning that included an hourly wage rate of $7.75, plus health insurance, pension, and other benefits. Arcade offered to hire the janitors who worked in the buildings, but only on a part-time basis without benefits and at a wage of between $4 and $5.25 an hour.

Although Arcade has refused to recognize the union as the bargaining agent for the janitors, the janitors have continued to report for work even though they claim their take-home pay has been reduced from an average of $250 to a low of $38 a week. …

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