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Unions strike for right to organize

Stephon Johnson | 5/21/2015, 6 p.m.

Earlier this month, Environmental Service Systems employees walked off the job, demanding that their employer respect their right to be represented by their union, Local 32BJ.

“We are hardworking men and women who take pride in our job and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Roselys Relleria, an office cleaner at the Morristown, N.J.-based facility for over a decade, in a statement. “Our union fights on our behalf, and we will fight to ensure 32BJ continues to represent us so we have the protection and support we need to stand up against those who try to silence us and strip us of our rights.”

Unfair labor practice charges were filed against ESS for illegally attempting to decertify the employees and take away union protection. Sixteen full-time office cleaners work at Honeywell’s Headquarters at 101 Columbia Road in Morristown, N.J. March 6, ESS took over the contract and agreed to hire all 16 workers, but reports surfaced that ESS was trying to illegally strip workers’ ability to be represented by 32BJ. The union tried to contact ESS officials to negotiate on common ground and work on a solution, but they have reported no progress.

“We’re happy to keep the lines of communication open,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU vice president and New Jersey state director, in a statement. “But we won’t sit back and remain silent if workers’ rights are being violated. We will always stand up for workers—they are the backbone of our society, the driving force of our economy, and we will fight to ensure their voices and demands are heard and respected.”