Janitors at Fort Belvoir could walk off the job tomorrow

Janitors for Fort Belvoir will strike Tuesday morning if the Atlanta-based federal contractor they work for refuses to come to the table to renegotiate the terms of their contract.

Nearly 70 janitors work at the Army installation in Fairfax County under a federal contract held by Brown & Pipkins, doing business as Ascential. The contract is set to expire in August. On July 25, the workers authorized their union’s bargaining committee to call a strike against the company in response to charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board that allege Ascential has refused to bargain a contract in good faith with the union.

According to a spokeswoman from the Service Employees International Union, that strike is scheduled for 7 a.m. Tuesday.

A request for comment emailed to the address listed for the media bounced, and a call to the listed phone number went to a recorded message with no voicemail option.

This would not be the first time Fort Belvoir janitors went on strike in response to alleged unfair practices by Ascential, which took over the contract in September 2012. Last year, following a strike that lasted a day, the contractor settled claims it owed nearly $300,000 in wages and benefits, and disciplined two workers and terminated one for protected union activity. The company was also ordered to reinstate five janitorial workers who were laid off and reimburse them for back wages and benefits.

The latest negotiations relate to that contract’s replacement.

“Just like last year, they have been dragging their feet, causing unnecessary delay and reluctant to meet in person,” said the SEIU spokeswoman.

Like Ascential, Escab Enterprises in Gaithersburg landed in the hot seat last year, accused by workers that cleaned the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Uniformed Services University of failing to pay wages owed. The company eventually paid what was owed after Navy commanders and elected officials in Maryland intervened, according to an announcement from the SEIU.


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