From left to right: Nereida Rojas, 32BJ NJ District Leader Luz Garate, Luis Orozco, Henry Cabrera, 32BJ Representative Francis Cuadrado, Maritza Orozco, Luz Ortega, and Antonio Jimenez Credit: SEIU 32BJ photo

It took almost a full year’s worth of fighting, but for 27 workers from the Moorestown School District in New Jersey, it was worth it.

Ten months into a battle with Healthcare Services Group, Inc. (HCSG), the workers reached a settlement with the janitorial contractor, which includes $400,000 in back payments, reimbursement of medical expenses that accrued during the fight, and the return of their jobs.

“These members have been fighting for 10 months,” stated 32BJ Executive Vice President & New Jersey State Director Kevin Brown. “They told their stories at the monthly board of education meetings, signed petitions, and more. We are pleased with the NLRB’s management of the case and that HCSG accepted a settlement. More than anything, we are pleased that the workers will receive their back pay and be reinstated.”

Last July, 27 MSD workers lost their jobs after the local board of education awarded HCSG with a new janitorial contract. The contractor let go anyone associated with the 32BJ and in the process, killed workers’ income, health insurance and other benefits.

Earlier this year, the fourth region of the National Labor Relations Board stated there was merit in the workers’ challenge and complaint against HCSG and filed for the Section 10(j) injunction relief in federal court in Camden, N.J. The hearing didn’t happen due to HCSG’s settlement, which includes recognizing the union during collective bargaining, and “union rights training” for HCSG supervisors.

New contractors have submitted two-year contract bids to the Moorestown School District, with an announcement of a possible new contractor soon.

For Moorestown School District janitorial worker Luz Ortega, it’s nothing but good news from her side of things.

“We are relieved to know that we have reached a settlement,” Ortega stated. “The past 10 months have been challenging for all of us. I do not think we ever recovered from the way we were fired by HCGS. We look forward to being back at work, taking care of the schools where Moorestown’s children learn. Once our wages and health care are restored, we will once again be able to care for our families.”

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