DENVER — Hundreds of janitors at Denver International Airport walked off the job Saturday over what they say is a lack of fair wages and labor practices. But it was announced later in the day that the two sides had reached a tentative deal and striking workers will likely be back to work by Sunday.
The union representing DIA janitors, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 105, said in a release Saturday that after months of negotiations with their contractor, Flagship Facility Services, 350 members of the union went on strike.
The union said the two parties failed to reach an agreement on a three-year contract and union members held a rally Saturday outside the south side of the terminal on the fifth level.
“We’re on strike for fair wages and workloads,” said Luis Gonzalez in a statement. “We keep this place running. We put ourselves at risk every day, and we deserve to be able to put food on the table for the holidays.”
Ron Ruggiero, president of SEIU Local 105, said the tentative agreement reached after talks Saturday morning includes a win for workers on the issue of pay after "40 years of wage stagnation."
"A huge sticking point was around wages and that was a major achievement today," Ruggiero said. "There are also workload issues that got resolved."
The agreement reached contains raises amounting to $4 an hour over the three years of the contract, along with workload protections and increased time off.
Denver7 has reached out to Flagship Facility Services for a comment, but we have yet to hear back from them.
The short-lived strike came as DIA enters the busy Thanksgiving travel week. An airport spokesperson said they were working to minimize any disruptions and urged both sides to come to an agreement quickly. A followup statement from Stephanie Figueroa, a spokeswoman for the airport, thanked both parties for reaching a deal.
"We are pleased that SEIU and Flagship have reached an agreement and thank both parties for their efforts and partnership to develop an equitable solution for our janitors. The janitorial staff is an important part of DEN and we thank them for their hard work," Figueroa wrote.
The agreement reached late Saturday afternoon will be ratified by a vote by union workers sometime next week, Ruggiero said.