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Cleaning executive: Unions hurt cleaners

June 20, 2002
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By Michael McCagg BALTIMORE — Union activities are actually hurting the cleaners they are supposed to be helping, a contractor working in the heart of a city targeted by the Justice for Janitors campaign said. Lisa Bends, owner of Baltimore''s My Cleaning Service, told CM e-News Daily/CMM Online that cleaners are "feeling pressured" by organizers for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and most actually do not want to join the union. "It was more the corporations that decided to join rather than the workers deciding to join, because the corporations were fearful of the negative publicity," said Bends. At the same time, Bends said, some of the cleaners who do join the union because of the higher wages promised typically are sacrificing benefits because the contractors simply are not making enough of a profit on the accounts to pay inflated wages and provide decent benefit packages. The SEIU didn''t return a telephone call for comment, but on several occasions, union officials have touted the benefit packages won in negotiations with building service contractors. Still, Bends comments echo those of other executives who have spoken with CM e-News Daily/CMM Online. But a vast majority of contractors contacted by CM e-News Daily/CMM Online to discuss the unionization effort have declined, saying they are fearful of being targeted by the union in a retaliatory manner.