Berkeley Daily Planet, August 19, 2005

Bayer Corp. Janitors Hold on To Their Jobs

Bayer Corp.'s 54 janitors no longer have to fear for their jobs. The pharmaceutical giant dropped plans Wednesday to contract out janitorial work at its Berkeley facility. "We think Bayer realized that it was going to be a strike-worthy issue so they pulled it off the table," said Donald Mahon, business agent for the International Longshoreman's Warehouse Union, which represents 544 Bayer employees.

Bayer's union contract expires on Thursday. The company had told union officials that it was considering replacing its janitors with contract workers represented by the Service Employees International Union. Bayer spokesperson Clelia Baur declined to discuss any details of the ongoing negotiations.

Contracting out the jobs would have netted a significant savings for Bayer. The contract janitors would have made $11 an hour, compared to $20.29 an hour for Bayer janitors. Mahon said Bayer is not asking its janitorial staff to take a pay cut, but refused to disclose the terms of the company's offer. "I'm pretty optimistic we can come back with a proposal we can recommend to the workers," he said. "The most critical issue is finally off the table." (By MATTHEW ARTZ)