Janitors and maintenance workers lost their jobs when developer hired a new contractor

ParkMerced has ambitious development plans -- but now has labor trouble
ParkMerced has ambitious development plans — but now has labor trouble

By Tim Redmond

APRIL 22, 2015 – Union maintenance workers and janitors, backed by a broad labor and community coalition, will rally Thursday at noon to protest a decision by a new ParkMerced service contractor to leave more than 30 union workers without jobs and replace them with lower-paid personnel.

The giant company that owns the massive residential complex just hired Preferred Building Services to take over the work of maintaining its 3,221 residences. The developer is planning to expand the complex to 8,900 units.

The project has been mired in controversy for years, particularly because the demolition and reconstruction of many of the existing units could potentially remove them from rent control.

ParkMerced contracts out its maintenance and janitorial services, and for decades, through four different contractors, the workers have been members of SEIU, and the union contracts have always been respected, Colin O’Leary, an SEIU-USWW organizer, told me.

“The assumption always was that a new contractor would come in and hire the existing workers and the contract would stay in place,” he said.

But this time around, “our guys showed up for work and were told they no longer had jobs,” he said.

Some of the workers have been employed at ParkMerced for more than 20 years, and a few as long as 30 years.

It’s kind of crazy that a developer already in a bit of trouble with the city would hire a contractor that has had labor problems in the past. The SF Labor Council has sanctioned picket lines at ParkMerced, which means that other unionized workers (including Recology employees, who pick up the recycling, compost, and garbage) are honoring the picket.

Among those who will be at the rally Thursday:

Jobs with Justice, Chinese Progressive Association, San Francisco Grey Panthers, San Francisco ACCE, California Faculty Association San Francisco State Chapter, United Educators of San Francisco, American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, SEIU 1021, California Nurses Association, and Supervisors Eric Mar, John Avalos, and David Campos.

It starts at noon  at  Parkmerced External Leasing Office, 3711 19th Ave.