The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is working in conjunction with janitors in a handful of major cities in California and Indianapolis to garner higher wages and access to better health care.

In California, the SEIU is representing 20,000 janitors whose contracts are up at the end of April. With the high cost of living in the state, janitors who live in Orange County have to spend roughly 80 percent of their wages on housing costs, says Gina Bowers, spokeswoman for SEIU Local 1877, Los Angeles.

On the health care side, the janitors in California have to wait 30 months to be eligible for family health coverage. The idea that companies offer family health coverage is disingenuous because of the amount of time it takes to qualify for coverage and high job turnover in the field, says Bowers.

Janitors in Indianapolis are in the final leg of the “Three Cities, One Future” campaign that started in Cincinnati and moved on to Columbus, Ohio. The 1,500 Indianapolis janitors represented are working towards an increase in wages and improved health insurance, along with longer working hours.

“Right now [janitors] are being offered four- to six-hour shifts, but they need a stable job where they can work eight hours and go home,” says Kevin O’Donnell, another SEIU spokesman.

During the course of negotiations, SEIU and the janitors have received support from people in the community, including government officials and clergy members.

The support of community officials is nothing new for janitors and SEIU, who are jockeying for improved wages and health insurance. These janitors had previously received similar support in Cincinnati and Columbus. These negotiations resulted in scheduled pay raises by 2012 and promises of additional working hours.

The success incurred in those cities has left janitors in Indianapolis aware of what other janitors won and how long it took them to keep fighting for changes, says O’Donnell.


Los Angeles is ready to enact green building standards. A proposed ordinance requiring large, privately built commercial developments to use green practices including reducing energy and water use is expected to be passed by the city council by the end of March.

The ordinance, which was passed by two city council committees, dictates that private projects that surpass 50,000 square feet need to incorporate the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) checklist into building plans in order to meet a “standard of sustainability.”

LEED standards include credits for green cleaning. If Los Angeles passes the ordinance, it would be the largest city to extend green requirements to the private sector.


Mergers, acquisitions and expansions continue to change the landscape of the cleaning industry. Recent activity includes:

  • Newell Rubbermaid, Atlanta, signed a definitive agreement to acquire Technical Concepts Holdings, LLC, Mundelein, Ill., for approximately $445 million.

    The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and closing conditions, but is expected to close in the first half of 2008. It is expected to be neutral earnings in 2008 and accretive in 2009.

  • Tennant Co., Minneapolis, entered into a purchasing agreement with Applied Sweepers, Falkirk, Scotland, and Sociedade Alfa Ltda., Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    Completion of the transactions are subject to concluding routine environmental due diligence and other customary closing conditions.

    The current management of Applied Sweepers will stay in place. The terms of the deal with Sociedade Alfa Ltda., has not been disclosed.

  • Francis Kane has acquired General Floorcraft Products, Paterson, N.J. Kane says he will bring improvements and innovation to the 80-year-old company, but not change the quality or construction of the floor machines.

    According to Kane, his goal for General Floorcraft is to provide elite service and make doing business with the company easy. The company plans on introducing new products and programs this year, along with looking for strategic alliances to advance the product brand.

  • Benefit Advisory Group, Briar Cliff, N.Y., has merged with USI Insurance Services, Norfolk, Va. Edward A. (Eddie) Holcombe, has been named vice president of employee benefits for USI.
  • Coverall Cleaning Concepts, Boca Raton, Fla., announced a territory franchise agreement that will bring the company's business to Kuwait and Qatar. The agreement gives the company a presence in 96 metropolitan markets including locations in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, Chile and the Dominican Republic.

    Kuwait-based American General Trading & Contracting W.L.L. (AGT) is the territory franchise owner in both Kuwait and Qatar.

    AGT plans to open a Coverall Cleaning Concepts Support Center in Kuwait this month and one in Qatar several months from now.