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Airport custodians demand better pay

PHOENIX — On a day designated to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a couple dozen people gathered outside Terminal 2 to demand better treatment for the workers who clean Sky Harbor Airport.

Some held signs that called for dignity and respect. Custodian Isabell Marquez is calling for cash, too.

“I’ve been at the airport almost nine years now and they came in and took pay away from me and I didn’t think that was fair when they got a $10 million contract with the city of Phoenix,” she said.

Marquez is referring to her employer, ISS Facilities Services. She says when they won a janitorial contract last year, her pay was cut by $1.80 per hour. “That’s a lot for me. I couldn’t afford to pay all my bills. I lost my car because of that.”

Marquez says others saw their pay cut, too, while some custodians received wages.

In a written statement to KTAR, Phil Collins, vice president of labor relations for ISS, said employees are now getting paid vacations, holidays and sick days which were not previously offered. The statement also says that employees will receive a 5.9 percent raise in February and an identical one in August.

Marquez says it still doesn’t make up for what she’s lost.

The full company statement follows:

ISS Facility Services is pleased to serve the City of Phoenix at Sky Harbor International Airport. ISS was awarded the contract in Aug. 2013 and through a team of approximately 290 employees, delivers a safe and clean environment for all passengers and staff at this prestigious facility.

A key aspect as to why ISS was selected to deliver the services was due to our ability to meet the City’s aspiration to ensure the janitorial staff receives benefits that were not previously being offered. These include paid vacations, paid holidays, paid sick days, and healthcare.

ISS is delivering all of these benefit requirements and in addition over 68% of these employees received a raise at the initial start-up of the contract. All employees will be given a wage increase of 5.9% in Feb. 2014, after completion of an employment period of 6 months. Another wage increase of the same amount will be provided to all employees in Aug. 2014, raising the average hourly wage by 11.8% at the one year anniversary of the contract.

ISS is dedicated to looking after the well-being of each valued team member and continuing to develop a strong partnership with the City of Phoenix.