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STAMFORD, CT-Businesses in Fairfield, CT, and apartment dwellers in Westchester County, NY may have to get used to taking out their own garbage while strikes by two locals of the Service Employees International Union-(SEIU) AFL-CIO drag on into their second week.

In fact, this morning members of Local 531 of the SEIU who clean commercial office buildings in Fairfield County began handing out garbage bags to Metro North commuters at the Stamford train station at 8 a.m. to make their point.

Approximately 250 Fairfield County janitors went on strike Oct. 4 to protest what they term unfair labor practices at 20 buildings in the Stamford area. Cynthia Kaine, a spokesperson for Local 531, said the union plans to announce a major contributor to its strike fund and will intensify the strike by focusing on another 70 to 80 commercial office buildings from Greenwich to Shelton.

Despite the high cost of living in Fairfield County, janitors are paid $6.15 per hour. Most do not have health insurance because they cannot afford it, Local 531 officials complain.

Autumn Weintraub, lead organizer for the SEIU’s “Justice for Janitors Campaign” in Fairfield County, commented when the strike began, “Janitors in Fairfield County are tired of their rights being violated for trying to rise out of poverty. These workers look around them and see wealth everywhere. In the buildings they clean, in the parking lots of the buildings where shiny new cars abound, and throughout the posh neighborhoods that make Fairfield County famous as the home of millionaires. And yet, they can’t feed themselves. They can’t get medical coverage. Something is wrong in Fairfield County and these workers made the difficult decision to take bold action, to walk off their jobs.”

Meanwhile in Westchester, week two has also begun on a strike by Local 32 E of the SEIU-AFL-CIO, which affects approximately 532 cooperative, condominium and rental apartment buildings in Westchester and Rockland counties. Approximately 1,500 service workers are members of 32E and are said to be participating in the strike that began on Oct. 3. The 32E strike does not impact commercial office buildings in Westchester and Rockland, according to officials with the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region, which is representing the building owners in the labor negotiations with 32E. A pact with those workers was reached earlier this year.

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