As seen in The Washington Business Journal. 

Cleaners and trades workers at Howard University have received a big raise as the result of a new contract reached between the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ and the school.

The three-year agreement, which expires Nov. 3, 2010, is retroactive to Nov. 4, 2007.

About 300 cleaners, carpenters, painters, electricians and plumbers who work at residence halls, academic and administrative buildings, and other on- and off-campus buildings will receive wage increases of between 16.5 percent and 23 percent over the life of the contract. That means a cleaner at the university who currently earns $10.50 an hour will see his hourly wage rise to at least $12.25 by November 2009.

“The contract’s substantial raises show that the university values our members’ work and the contribution they make to the university and its community,” said Jaime Contreras, Local 32BJ capital area District director.

Workers can earn additional increases of up to 2 percent each year through an annual job review process outlined in the contract.

“This raise couldn’t come at a better time,” said Vincent Gray, who works as a carpenter in a Howard residence hall. “With everything getting more expensive, it’s been a real struggle to pay the bills each month.”

New York-based Local 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the U.S., with more than 100,000 members in six states including 10,000 in the area.