Janitor Union Push Goes To Legal Realm

    The fight is on to unionize approximately 20 janitors working at that Park Meadows Shopping Center, the bustling mall located south of metro Denver.

    According to organizers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the labor group has been attempting to unionize the employees since May, and now the effort has turned to legal action amid allegations of intimidation and illegal tactics.Yesterday, Aug. 22, SEIU filed complaints with the federal National Labor Relations Board against three companies-one a shopping mall owner, and two that are contracted to provide janitorial services in malls.

    Colorado was one of four states where workers were alleged to have had their rights violated when attempting to organize. General Growth Properties, Inc, the owner of Park Meadows, and the Millard Group, which is the cleaning contractor in the mall, are defendants in the complaint.

    SEIU organizers also said that anti-union tactics in the campaign have ranged from oppositional pamphlets to employers promising workers higher wages if they don’t try to unionize.

    At issue here, are not only wages, but also health care costs and a sense of respect, say union representatives.

    Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

    Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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