Workers’ union files federal lawsuit against North Jersey company

NEW JERSEY — One of the nation’s largest real estate services unions is accusing a New Jersey company of “impeding fair competition” and sandbag building owners with a “restrictive” contract clause.

Last week, 32BJ SEIU – a chapter of the Service Employees International Union which has an office in Newark – announced that it had filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the Parsippany-based planned companies.

Planned Companies provides janitors, security guards and other workers to building owners throughout the East Coast. According to the company’s website, its portfolio includes more than 1,000 residential, corporate, commercial and retail properties, with operations in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and California.

Spokespersons for the union released the following statement regarding their allegations:

“32BJ’s complaint and request for investigation, injunction and other relief against the Planned Companies relates to [its] restrictive contractual clause, which prohibits their building owner clients, their affiliates and any person or entity retained by them from soliciting or employing any of the workers for six months after the termination of the agreement or departure or dismissal of that employee. The clause also requires building owners who violate this provision to pay three months’ average salary per employee as compensatory damages for the loss of each such employee, together with all costs of collecting such payment, including attorney’s fees and court costs. This type of agreement is particularly unfair and misleading because they are not disclosed to workers when they are employed.”

“This contract clause traps workers in precarious work, without decent pay or benefits, and without the opportunity for meaningful career advancement,” said Executive Vice President and NJ State Manager Kevin Brown.

“Also, it prevents the building from keeping good workers if it chooses to get rid of Planned,” Brown added. “The penalty is equivalent to an easement fee for the worker.”

The full complaint can be seen here.

Patch contacted Planned Companies to comment on the union’s allegations. We’ll update this article with any response we receive.

The FTC’s complaint isn’t the first time 32BJ SEIU and Planned Companies have locked horns. In recent years, the union has held protests and rallies against the company at construction sites in Newark, Bloomfield, Secaucus, Jersey City, East Orange, Guttenberg and Englewood.

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