Janitors threaten strike at 22 Philadelphia schools

    Privatized custodians say they don’t earn as much as janitors who work directly for the school district

    More than 200 custodians who clean 22 Philadelphia public schools have authorized a strike. Each side is accusing the other of using scare tactics.

    The contract employees work for Team Clean, and say they make much less than their counterparts who are employed by the school district. Valerie Long is vice president of the Service Employees International Union, local 32 BJ. Long says management is using illegal scare tactics to keep workers from speaking to union representatives.

    “It’s really gotten stalled because of this harassment of our union members. It really just slows things down and makes workers afraid to take action.”

    Long says the workers make between $9.70 and $11.25 an hour. They want a wage increase and better benefits.

    Team Clean says the union used scare tactics to get workers to authorize a strike. A spokesperson says the company will continue to clean the schools even if a strike occurs.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.