In a recent press release, ABM Industries Incorporated responded to recent attempts by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to intimidate janitorial workers in Houston, Texas and violate provisions of its agreements in several cities around the country.

“As we’ve said all along, we would welcome a resolution of the Houston situation,” said ABM CEO Henrik Slipsager. “If the workers in Houston wish to have an election on whether to organize, we’ll gladly support such an outcome.

“We’re mystified as to what is truly driving the SEIU’s actions here, but we can not – and will not – compromise our workers’ rights. We have a long track record of treating our workers well. We’re one of the most unionized companies in the industry. And we’re willing to conduct a secret ballot election, consistent with America’s time-honored tradition of permitting its citizens to vote in private in every election from local school boards to U.S. President.

“Our position remains very simple: The workers must be treated fairly and the laws must be followed. We are very disappointed that SEIU has chosen to violate the terms of its labor agreements in several cities over the past week,” he added.

SEIU has been attempting to organize janitors in Houston for the past two years. Typically, a union organizes employees by filing for a secret ballot election where workers can choose – in private – whether to be unionized. In Houston, SEIU declined to seek a traditional secret ballot election and instead decided to pursue what is called a “card check.” Further, SEIU sought an agreement from ABM to remain neutral in the Houston “card check,” arbitrarily imposed a July 15 deadline and commenced sporadic labor actions against ABM in several cities around the country.

ABM Janitorial Services is the largest unionized janitorial company in the U.S., with approximately 53 percent of its workforce covered by organized labor. The company and SEIU have a constructive relationship dating back more than 50 years.

In the meantime, “the company is well prepared for any eventuality,” said Jim McClure, President of ABM Janitorial Services. “ABM is serving all of its customers and will continue to do so. It has in place extensive contingency plans to maintain the same high quality service to its clients in every local market,” he added. Some of ABM’s preparations include the creation of mobile cleaning crews that can be dispatched quickly to areas of need. ABM is also willing to work with customers to establish gates reserved for ABM employees, and to provide other assistance that customers might require.

ABM has received unequivocal support from all of the major building owner associations in its markets, including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.

“We remain willing to meet with SEIU to reach resolution on the Houston situation, but only on the condition that such meetings take place in an atmosphere free of threats or coercion,” concluded Slipsager.