Union Janitors Protest Sherwin-Williams Contractor Change

Sherwin-Williams paint store sign with the company's "Cover the Earth" logo
The company was founded by Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams in Cleveland in 1866. [Mike Mozart / Flickr]

A few dozen janitors and supporters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) demonstrated outside of Sherwin-Williams headquarters in Cleveland Thursday after they were notified the paint company is switching to a non-union contractor.

“Cleaning Sherwin-Williams is my main source of income that helps me provide for my 12-year-old daughter and my mother,” said employee Tiffany Gallego. “Janitors like me feel highly disappointed that after a combined decades of work cleaning, we are being let go.”

In a statement, Sherwin-Williams said the change is being driven by consistent performance and quality issues with the cleaning services provided by former contractor ABM over an extended period of time. The company said it provided several opportunities for ABM to fix those issues. 

Sherwin-Williams’s contract with A-Quality Facility Services begins Feb. 1 and the paint company has said it is willing to hire ABM employees.

“Our members are making at least $12 per their contract, and their contract guarantees them wage increases per year,” said SEIU Local 1 member Alejandra Flores in a statement provided to ideastream. “We were recently informed that the salaries proposed for the new janitorial services would be starting at $9.25, however this amount has been increased to $11. We do not oppose Sherwin-Williams’ right to change contractors, we just want to ensure janitors are respected and able to keep the benefits they obtained with their union [SEIU Local 1], such as health benefits guaranteed wage increases per year, PTO, etc." 

The Sherwin-Williams statement also addressed the ongoing search for a new company headquarters.

“Regarding activities related to public funding for a new headquarters, Sherwin-Williams continues to evaluate buildings and land in Cleveland, NE Ohio, across the state of Ohio, and other states to make sure we find the long-term opportunity to best serve our customers, employees, shareholders, and communities where we do business,” according to the statement. “No decision on the new headquarters has been made. When we have updates, we’ll issue an official announcement."


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