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SUPERVISORS FLETCHER & LAWSON-REMER FIGHT FOR JANITORS, LANDSCAPERS & SECURITY GUARDS TO BE TREATED FAIRLY BY EMPLOYERS WHO CONTRACT WITH THE COUNTY IN NEW POLICY

12/12/22

 

Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Terra Lawson-Remer want to ensure the contractors that hire janitors, landscapers and security personnel to work at County of San Diego properties provide a competitive wage package, health benefits and sick days, better workplace protections and proper training. On Tuesday, December 13, the Board of Supervisors will consider their policy to ensure future contracts deliver on these standards. This proposal also includes a first-of-its-kind wage theft fund, in which a portion of the contract award is withheld from the contractor and will only be released pending no wage theft claims are made during the life of the contract. 

One County janitorial worker named Sofia Martinez says: "I have been working as a contracted janitor for more than ten years. I am proud of the work my coworkers and I do every day to keep the county buildings clean and functional so San Diegans can receive the services they need. Working as a contracted janitor has been difficult for me and my coworkers to continue working with below standard wages and benefits.  That's why we stood up and said 'Ya basta' after suffering wage theft and not receiving benefits like health care. The Board of Supervisors will be voting to change my workplace for the better, so contracted workers like me have a voice on the job, dignity at work and protections to ensure that we can continue providing the County high quality services."

In August of this year, Supervisors Fletcher and Lawson-Remer heard the workers, stood with them in protest, committed to supporting their cause and now they are taking action to deliver results. 

“With this policy we are solidifying the value we put on County contractors treating their employees with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “We are creating greater accountability for ourselves as an entity and companies who want to do business with us. Taking this step internally ensures we are in alignment with the commitment this Board of Supervisors has made to protect and support working people and families.”      

"The hardworking essential workers who keep our County’s buildings safe and clean deserve to be paid fairly and treated with dignity and respect. This means protection from wage theft, protection from sexual harassment, and a right to organize," said Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer. "This board action will guarantee rights and dignity to the janitors, landscapers, and other invisible workers who keep our doors open and the lights on across our County facilities."

If approved, the Chief Administrative Officer will begin to implement the contracting standards in all Requests for Proposals (RFPs) posted after December 13, 2022, and all subsequent contracts, for all janitorial, landscaping, and security services contracts. A first-of-its-kind wage theft fund is also proposed  to ensure workers are paid and companies that commit wage theft are kept on the hook. The Board will be updated on progress by the County’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting and the Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement within 240 days.

David Huerta, President of SEIU-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW) is supportive of the policy and says: "All workers -- regardless of their employer -- deserve a workplace free of exploitation, abuse and harassment. This vote was many years in the making, and it took many voices that were brave enough to say enough is enough. That's why we're eager and thankful for Supervisors Fletcher and Lawson-Reamer's leadership in righting the wrongs that workers have been fighting against for years so no employer contracted by San Diego County can get away with substandard working conditions. Today marks an important step in transforming San Diego into a more equitable economy where workers' rights are not just celebrated but protected. San Diego County is working in its self-interest when it listens to workers and holds contractors accountable to ensure that it gets the best services available."

Some of the provisions the Supervisors want to see in all RFPs are:

  • Labor Peace Agreements: Labor Peace Agreements are important to guarantee labor peace and to protect the County’s proprietary and economic interests. 

  • Collective Bargaining Agreements: This agreement helps empower employees to negotiate terms of employment, such as pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health, and safety policies. 

  • A First-of-its-Kind Wage Theft Fund: A portion of the contract award is withheld from the contractor and will only be released pending no wage theft claims are made during the life of the contract. 

  • Wage Floor: This policy will create a wage floor for the service contracts based upon conducting a benchmarking analysis every five years based on comparable jurisdictions with similar contracts. 

  • Janitorial Registry and Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

  • Worker Retention: This policy will require contractors to retain existing workers when a contract changes. 

  • Compliance with Local, State and National Laws: Contractors will be required to comply with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, and the County’s Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement will have the ability to investigate or audit potential allegations. 

  • Contract Enforcement: The Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement will have an important role to play in contract enforcement. 

If approved, the Contracting Standards Board Policy would be phased into new RFPs and subsequent contracts over the  next several years. 

"For too long janitors have had to endure exploitative practices set by irresponsible contractors who steal wages, break labor laws, and undercut competitors in a dangerous race to the bottom. San Diego janitors have diligently kept county buildings and facilities clean and sanitized and deserve better," said Yardenna Aaron, Executive Director of the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, a janitorial watchdog organization. "We're proud that the San Diego Board of Supervisors has committed today to do business with law-abiding contractors, paving the way for dignified wages and stronger workplace standards that the rest of the public sector can follow."

Read the entire policy by clicking here