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Denver International Airport janitors vote to strike over wages, workloads

Workers will strike at DIA Friday
Denver International Airport
Posted at 11:08 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 17:05:32-04

DENVER — With their contract set to expire Thursday, 350 Denver International Airport janitors have voted in favor of going on strike, according to the Service Employees International Union Local 105.

The union said the city contractor who employs the janitors, Flagship, has “refused to bargain a fair contract” with employees in regards to wages and workloads.

SEIU Local 105 confirmed Thursday after weeks of negotiations, an agreement could not be reached ahead of the Sept. 30 contract expiration. The 350 janitors plan to walk off the job Friday.

“Going on strike is not something any one of us wants to do, but if Flagship continues to refuse to value our essential work, we will do what it takes to get the respect we deserve and make these jobs good, livable wage jobs in our community,” said Solita Sualau, an airport janitor.

The strike and rally will take place at 12 p.m. at the Westin Plaza outside of the fifth floor on the south side of the airport. The decision comes after a three-day voting process ended Wednesday with 99% of the votes cast being in favor of a strike.

“We put ourselves at risk every day to keep this airport running through COVID,” said Densley Philbert, a janitor at the Denver International Airport for 16 years. “We are sick of being understaffed, overworked, underpaid and undervalued for our work.”

The airport released a statement urging Flagship and Local 105 to “come to an agreement quickly.”

“We believe they can resolve their differences. In the meantime, we are working closely with Flagship to minimize any disruption in service and impacts to DEN and our passengers,” the statement says.

According to Local 105, the janitors at DIA service the entire airport, including the Westin hotel “ensuring clean facilities and spaces for all travelers.”

Denver7 reached out to Flagship for a comment and received a statement Thursday from Senior Vice President Maria Madrigal saying it continued to negotiate with SEIU Local 105 and that Flagship was "hopeful that we can reach a mutual agreement soon."

"We value our employees and are grateful for their dedication to their work at the Denver International Airport. While we respect our employees' right to strike, we are working closely with DIA officials to ensure janitorial services are in place to provide a clean and safe environment for travelers," Madrigal said in a statement.