WASHINGTON — A strike by groundskeepers at Arlington National Cemetery is in its third week with no end in sight. But the primary contractor that provides landscape service says the strike is not disrupting maintenance at the hallowed ground.
Thirty members of the Laborers International Union of North America are trying to secure their first contract with their joint employers Greenleaf Services Inc. and Davey Tree Expert Company.
“The workers just want what’s fair. A lot of them have not received a raise in years, they want a basic, standard raise,” said Steve Lanning, organizer for LiUNA.
The union also contends that areas of the National Cemetery are being neglected during the strike.
Greenleaf, the primary landscape contractor at Arlington has hired replacement workers to complement a dozen regular groundskeepers who have not joined the strike.
“Maintaining the pristine condition of these sacred grounds remains our top priority,” Greg Christian, a spokesman for Greenleaf, said in an email.
While the union says negotiations are at an impasse, Christian says Greenleaf has an “open standing offer to meet with the union.”
The minimum pay rate for groundskeepers at Arlington is about $13 an hour plus an additional $4 an hour in lieu of health care and retirement benefits.
The company says the workers also receive up to four weeks paid vacation annually and paid federal holidays.
A majority of the grounds keeping employees voted last year to form a union, but negotiations have failed so far to produce a contract with Greenleaf and Davey.
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