DENVER (KDVR) — Denver International Airport janitors have voted in favor of going on strike.
The three-day voting process culminated Wednesday night, with 99% of the 350 people who participated casting a vote in favor of a strike, according to the Service Employees International Union Local 105.
The workers are employees of the airport contractor Flagship.
“In the four years that I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen unity like this between janitors across the airport,” Solita Sualau, an airport janitor, stated in the press release. “Going on strike is not something any one of us wants to do, but if Flagship continues to refuse to value our essential work, we will do what it takes to get the respect we deserve and make these jobs good, livable wage jobs in our community.”
Update Sept. 30, 4:07 p.m. Flagship provided the following statement on Thursday morning:
“Flagship Facility Services continues to negotiate in good faith with the SEIU Local 105, and we are hopeful that we can reach a mutual agreement soon. We value our employees and are grateful for their dedication to their work at the Denver International Airport (DIA). While we respect our employees’ right to strike, we are working closely with DIA officials to ensure janitorial services are in place to provide a clean and safe environment for travelers.”
When could a strike begin?
Janitors and members of the SEIU Local 105 are in favor of a strike “for fair wages and workloads,” the union chapter said in a press release.
The workers could launch a strike as soon as Friday, one day after their contract expires, the SEIU said.
In a statement, a DIA spokesperson said: “We urge our contractor Flagship, and our janitors’ union to come to agreement quickly. We believe they can resolve their differences. In the meantime, we are working closely with Flagship to minimize any disruption in service and impacts to DEN and our passengers.”
What Denver airport janitors are saying
The employees have been cleaning and sanitizing DIA and the Westin hotel for more than a year-and-a-half through the pandemic, according to the SEIU. The union said the contractor, Flagship, “has refused to bargain a fair contract with the airport janitors our community has depended on for the last 20 months.”
“We put ourselves at risk every day to keep this airport running through COVID,” 16-year veteran janitor Densley Philbert said. “We are sick of being understaffed, overworked, underpaid and undervalued for our work. We are ready to do what it takes for our families, including going on strike, to get the fair wages and respect we deserve for the services we provide.”
DIA hosted a job fair on Wednesday as the airport said it faces staffing shortages.
“It’s no wonder that folks looking for work aren’t looking here,” said DIA janitor Guillermo Booz. “We’ve built our lives and our careers at these jobs, but putting yourself at risk every day for wages that can’t even pay the rent isn’t what most people would consider a good job.”