Contracted cleaners from a New Jersey office building will be in Shelton today to protest what they call “anti-union behavior” by the building’s owner, Rugby Realty.

The rally is expected to begin at noon on Thursday, Oct. 2, outside the Reservoir Corporate Center at 4 Research Drive, which is owned by Rugby Realty. State Sen. Andres Ayala, a Bridgeport Democrat, is expected to be there to  support the protesters from the  32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“Workers will be joined by union brothers and sisters from 32BJ's Connecticut area, and community allies, to protest job losses and anti-union behavior,” alleged a press release by the local SEIU.

Nonunion cleaning contractor hired

The SEIU release claims that workers at 300 Lighting Way in Secaucus, N.J., some with as much as 21 years of service, were let go from their jobs when the new building owner, Rugby Realty, hired a nonunion cleaning contractor that declined to hire back the workers.

The average worker at the Lighting Way building had worked there for 10 years, union officials said.

SEIU officials allege that the new cleaning contractor at the New Jersey office complex “is being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for discriminatorily refusing to hire the workers and for slashing wages and benefits.”

“While Rugby has been a responsible employer in the past, it is not true as it expands in New Jersey,” charges the SEIU-32BJ’s release.

Union has 145,000 members

The SEIU 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country, with 145,000 members in 11 states, including nearly 10,000 in New Jersey.

Rugby Realty owns buildings throughout the country, including two office towers in New Jersey and five office buildings in Connecticut.