SAMs Workers Rally for Justice

NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 President & DBR Bill Dougan, second from left, rallies with DC Safety/Hospitality Maintenance workers demanding their employer, Downtown Business Improvement District, recognize the IAM as the workers’ union.

Dozens of IAM members rallied in downtown Washington, DC, demanding an end to their employer’s refusal to recognize the IAM as their union. The DC Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance (SAMs) workers picketed outside the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) office demanding the company recognize the Machinists Union as the workers’ certified union.

SAMs workers are often seen out and around downtown DC donning red shirts and caps. Their job is to assist the public with directions, pick-up trash and alert the police of any trouble. The workers voted to join the IAM in 2009, citing pay and sick leave issues.

“Despite the National Labor Relations Board certifying the election twice, Downtown BID continues to draw out the legal battle, and refuses to recognize the union,” said Cory Bythrow, spokesperson for the National Federation of Federal Employees/IAM Federal District 1. “This is an effort to undermine support for the union among employees.”

Downtown BID has fought two NLRB decisions certifying the election in favor of the IAM. The company recently appealed an April 4 th NLRB decision in which the Board dismissed BID’s unfounded claims of union intimidation.

“We need to get a public hearing with the City Council and the people of Washington so they are aware of Downtown BID’s hostile treatment of its employees,” said NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 Business Representative Roosevelt Littlejohn. “In my 30 years of union work I have never met a company that treats its employees as unfairly as the Downtown BID.”

“BID is acting unfair in fighting the union,” said John Wright, a SAMs worker who was wrongfully fired for taking time off to take care of his sick wife. “Let the union come in and let us have a place at the table. Respect our workplace rights.”