By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – On day one of the janitors’ strike at Denver International Airport, spirits were high. The group of employees went on strike Friday morning.

(credit: CBS)

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“Everybody is pumped up. We are ready to go,” says Densley Philbert, a striking worker.

Workers felt disrespected because they say they risked their lives to come to work during the pandemic. They say they were called essential and heroes, but now that it is time for a new contract between Flagship Facility Services and their union SEIU, they are being left behind. They were striking to ask for more pay and better working conditions from their employer.

Currently, Flagship Janitors make around $17 an hour, which they say is not a living wage in the City of Denver. Many of them say they have to work second jobs or pick up extra shifts at the airport. They say they want to get paid enough to make a living and will do whatever it takes to get there.

(credit: CBS)

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“No one ever wants to strike, but sometimes when you pushed around and disrespected you’ve got to stand up,” says Ron Ruggiero, President of SEIU Local 105.

Friday afternoon SEIU Local 105 announced Flagship had agreed to start negotiations next week and the workers had agreed to return to work on Saturday. Workers are hopeful the two sides can come to an agreement because despite having a tough job, it’s one the striking workers like to do.

Gonzalez says, “We clean the bathrooms, we clean the concourse, we do the floors, we do the carpet, we do everything in the airport.”

(credit: CBS)

Philbert adds, “And we have millions of airports in the world but this one, Denver International Airport is the cleanest.”

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Flagship released this statement to CBS4: “We’re disappointed that the union has turned down our final offer for an agreement that would have protected and improved wages and provided very generous fringe benefits for our valued employees. We hope the union will reconsider. In the meantime, we have prepared and will continue to serve the public at Denver International Airport to uphold a clean and safe environment and quality service for travelers in the interim.”

Michael Abeyta