A one-day strike by janitors working for GSF, the largest cleaning contractor in Indianapolis, has turned into an ongoing strike for 12 local workers from two buildings. The dispute highlights the allegations of unfair labor practices and anti-union harassment leveled by the janitors against GSF.
"These two buildings' workers did a legal one-day strike [June 15] and let GSF know they were doing it, and the next day when they went back to work, the company said a variety of things like they were going to be punished and they needed to reapply for their jobs," said Rebecca Maran, lead organizer for the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union. "A few workers were offered jobs back, and the rest were offered part-time positions. Now it's become an ongoing thing. GSF has tried very hard to make workers feel very intimidated, divided, so they feel they can't talk about what their working conditions are like."
The workers picket every evening in front of One North Capitol downtown and the Duke building in Carmel and they plan a variety of public outreach events in the near future. They say they have tried to negotiate with GSF, with little success, and Maran says the strike may well expand if the situation doesn't change in the near future.
Michael W. Padgett of Bingham McHale, who represents GSF, said that the company was within its legal rights to replace striking employees, and that once they received unconditional offers to return to work from the employees, they made every effort to place them in vacant positions. He also stated that the allegations leveled at GSF tend to be vague and often unsubstantiated.
"They've filed several unfair labor charges with the NLRB, dating back to when the organizing began," Padgett said. "The board has resolved six of those charges, and they've all been dismissed or withdrawn. Every one of those six cases has been decided in our favor, and of course they don't put that on their flyers."