MBTA Janitors’ Jobs Are Safe -- For Now

06-21-14: Boston, MA: SEIU members march in support of MBTA contracted janitors who may loose their jobs because of MBTA cutbacks outside the Transportation Building on Charles St. South in Boston, Mass. June 21, 2014. Photo/John Blanding, Boston Globe staff story/Martine Powers, Metro ( 22mbtajanitors )
SEIU members march in support of MBTA contracted janitors outside the Transportation Building on June 21, 2014.
John Blanding/The Boston Globe

One third of the MBTA’s janitorial staff will not be losing their jobs on Labor Day as previously planned.

Last year, the transportation authority announced that cuts to its janitorial staff were be imminent once it signed contracts with two cleaning companies. The contracts would reduce the janitorial staff by about 30 percent, saving up to $15.1 million over the next five years.

Since then, the janitor’s union, 32BJ Service Employees International Union Local 615, has protested the cuts through words and even song. On Wednesday, it was announced that the cuts would not happen.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

“The MBTA has asked its cleaning contractors to delay the planned changes to staffing levels while we continue to hold discussions with SEIU,” Joe Pesaturo, spokesperson for the MBTA, told Boston.com. “For the immediate future, the cleaning contractors will continue to operate in accordance with the terms of the first year of the agreements.”

“The MBTA’s decision to reconsider these drastic cuts is good news for workers and T riders,” Roxana Rivera, director of 32BJ SEIU District 615 said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with the MBTA and its cleaning contractors to find cost-saving alternatives that save taxpayer dollars while ensuring the quality service, safe jobs and standards of cleanliness that the T riders deserve.”

This doesn't mean that the janitors’ jobs have been saved. A person with knowledge of the situation told Boston.com that “no final decisions have been made regarding future staffing levels”—which means the cuts may well happen in the future. Boston Magazine reported that “the MBTA will potentially iron out how to test a new performance-based system next year.” If true, this would give the janitors at least four months before facing cuts again.