Arlington County Board members Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol joined more than 25 contract groundkeepers in their strike this morning outside of Arlington National Cemetery.
The strike by the members of Local 572 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) began today at 7 a.m. It comes after eight months of delays in reaching a new contract. The walkout is believed to be the first strike by workers at the cemetery, says LiUNA.
“This is about workers and their ability to provide for their families and their ability to live,” said Dorsey. “You really can’t do so if your wages don’t keep up with the cost of living.”
Cristol said she was at the strike to support “dignity and fair practices,” adding that the high cost of housing locally makes it hard to raise a family on the wages the groundskeepers are being paid.
The workers, who are jointly employed by Davey Tree Expert Co. and Greenleaf Services Inc., are looking for sick leave time and a pay raise of 4 percent from their current approximately $13 per hour rate.
“I don’t think our ask is that dramatic at all,” said LiUNA assistant organizing director Keon Shim. “We’ve negotiated on things that are non economic and when it came to economics, the company basically said no to everything that we proposed so far.”
“When you think about the incredibly enormous job and the important job of beautifying our cemetery, making it a sacred place and also making it hospitable for visitors, we shouldn’t take the low road with those employees who make that happen,” said Dorsey.
There will be negotiations tomorrow between the workers and the companies, according to the union. If the company is not willing to sign a new contract for workers, union representatives said, the strike will continue.
As Memorial Day approaches, the contract groundkeepers who help to maintain the hallowed ground at Arlington National Cemetery are preparing for a possible strike.
The workers have faced eight months of delay in seeking a new contract with “modest” pay increases and a paid sick leave option, according to their union, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA). The workers are employed by Davey Tree Expert Co. and Greenleaf Services Inc., which have contracts with the cemetery, LiUNA says.
The union issued the following press release this afternoon.
The men and women who care for the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery may strike the cemetery’s grounds-keeping contractor, following nearly eight months of delay in reaching a new contract agreement.
The 45 workers, members of Local 572 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, are seeking three annual pay increases and the introduction of paid sick leave. The workers are jointly employed by Davey Tree Expert Co. and Greenleaf Services Inc.
“Members of our military have risked their lives to defend the rights and freedoms of our Constitution, including the freedom to join together in a union for common interests,” said Larry Doggette, Business Manager of Local 572 and a veteran of the U.S. Marines. “It is disgraceful that these fundamental rights and freedoms would be denied at our nation’s military cemetery during a holiday in honor of those have lost their lives in defense of freedom.”
In May 2015, the workers voted in favor of joining together in the union to negotiate for better wages and working conditions. The workers are seeking a boost from their approximately $13 per hour pay rate. They are also seeking sick leave; currently workers have no paid sick leave.
The union and the companies reached an agreement this year on most non-economic issues, and workers presented their pay and sick leave proposal in October 2015. The employers had promised a response, but repeatedly delayed and cancelled the last negotiating session scheduled for this month.
Under a recent executive order by President Obama, up to seven days of sick leave will be required by federal contractors in 2017. However, rather than enshrining the sick leave in a contract, the employers proposed that sick leave be consistent with the order.
“It may be that they are running out the clock, hoping for new president who might rescind the executive order,” Doggette said. “But workers voted for a union, they want a contract and their rights to one should be respected.” Doggette added, “We believe we could easily reach an agreement if the employers would negotiate.” Doggette said that any strike would likely begin before the Memorial Day holiday, and absent an agreement, continue through it.
LIUNA’s Mid-Atlantic Region includes more than 40,000 workers predominantly in the construction industry in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Reardon
Big Tree Down on Washington Blvd — A large tree fell across power lines on Washington Blvd just south of Virginia Hospital Center during Saturday night and Sunday morning’s windstorm. Washington Blvd was closed between George Mason Drive and N. Harrison Street for much of the day Sunday while Dominion crews repaired the lines. [Twitter, Twitter]
Photos: DCA Airport Strike — DCist has photos from last week’s 24 hour strike of contract service workers at Reagan National Airport. [DCist]
Arlington Signs on to Amicus Brief — Arlington was among more than 50 counties and cities that signed on to an amicus brief in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan for reducing carbon emissions from power plants. [Columbia Law School, Twitter]
Capital Improvement Plan Survey — Through April 22, Arlington County is conducting an online survey of residents that will help guide decision-making during the upcoming Capital Improvement Plan process. The CIP helps to plan “major investments in parks, libraries, transportation, community centers, facilities, technology, water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure — along with other areas that support the community.” [Arlington County]
‘The Burbs Are Back’ in Office Leasing — Arlington and other suburban D.C. jurisdictions are showing a bit of strength in the office leasing market. “The suburbs accounted for 69.5 percent of Washington region’s leasing activity in the first quarter, up substantially from a 52.9 percent share in 2015, according to JLL’s quarterly market reports.” [Virginia Business]
TSA Move Delayed Until 2020 — The Transportation Security Administration will be staying put at its Pentagon City headquarters until at least 2020. The TSA had planned to move to Alexandria by 2018, but legal wrangling has delayed the move and forced the TSA to redo its leasing process. [Washington Business Journal]
PSA: Don’t Do This — Spotted in Clarendon: a young woman urinating while sitting on a bench along a busy street, at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday. [Twitter]
Water Main Repairs to Close Road — Arlington Ridge Road is scheduled be closed in both directions at 23rd Street S. from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. today for water main repairs. Detours will be in place, but drivers should consider alternate routes, Arlington County says.
Airport Strike is Back on Starting Tonight — A strike by contract service workers at Reagan National and other major U.S. airports is back on, starting tonight. The strike was initially planned for last week but was postponed due to the Brussels terror attacks. [Washington Post]
Arson Suspect Due in Arlington Court — A Reston man suspected of a home invasion and arson in Fairfax County is scheduled to be in an Arlington courtroom tomorrow. Antwan Green is also facing multiple charges stemming from crashing a stolen vehicle in Arlington on Dec. 10 and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. [Reston Now]
Fundraiser for Accessible Community Garden — Arlington County is trying to raise $10,000 from donors in order to build four “vertical gardens” that are accessible to those with disabilities or mobility issues. Currently, none of the county’s community gardens are accessible. The vertical gardens would be built at the Glebe & Lang Street Community Garden, along S. Glebe Road. The county is hoping to complete fundraising and construction by the end of June. [Fund Your Park]
Arlington Startup Acquired — Arlington-based startup Encore Alert has been acquired by Meltwater, a San Francisco-based brand analytics and consulting firm. As a result of the acquisition, the Encore Alert team has moved to the Bay Area. [DC Inno]
Co-Working Growing Quickly — Co-working providers are growing quickly and are expected by some analysts “to absolutely explode over the next five years.” Two of the top players are WeWork, which just opened a new office in Crystal City, and MakeOffices, which is opening a new flagship co-working space in Clarendon within the next few months. MakeOffices is based in Rosslyn, after being founded as UberOffices in 2012. [Bisnow]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Updated at 3:55 p.m. — Workers “decided to postpone the planned work stoppage in light of the horrific tragedy which unfolded today at the Brussels Airport and subway,” strike organizers say.
Earlier: Airline service workers at Reagan National Airport are planning what’s being described as a first-ever strike starting tonight.
Contract wheelchair attendants, skycaps, baggage handlers, checkpoint agents and cabin cleaners are planning to join fellow airport workers in eight different cities in a 24-hour strike for better working conditions and a $15 per hour minimum wage.
“DCA’s contracted airport service workers are excluded from the airport’s living wage law and earn as little as $3.77 plus tips with few meaningful benefits,” the 32BJ SEIU labor union said, in a press release.
Workers will be striking in the B and C terminals of the airport, 32BJ SEIU said. On Wednesday, from 12:30-1:30 p.m., workers will hold a rally at Gravelly Point Park, near the airport.
Among those planning to address striking airport workers at the rally are Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Rev. Graylan Hagle.
The action follows a protest by DCA airport workers in January that blocked traffic near the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in MLK Day.
After the jump, the full press release from 32BJ SEIU.
Photo via Facebook
The strike by Verizon’s landline workers has hit close to home for residents of one Ballston condominium building.
According to a tipster, the Ballston Park Condominiums building at 1050 N. Stuart Street has lost its landline phone service, and no one from Verizon has been available to fix it. The outage has affected residents’ ability to call 911, use the emergency phone system in the elevators and buzz people into the building, according to the tipster.
“Our building manager called Verizon and notified them that this is an emergency situation,” the tipster wrote. “They said they will try and get someone out tomorrow but could be as late as next week some time.”
We called the building management office for confirmation and, unsurprisingly, it went straight to a call waiting system.
Have your phones been affected by the strike?