Two dozen janitors protested outside the Rockridge Safeway at lunchtime today, to draw attention to health, safety and environmental concerns associated with toxic cleaning chemicals used at local Safeway supermarkets. In wet and miserable weather, the protesters wore protective masks saying “Toxic Stinks” and “Green Cleaning Now!” The janitors are members of SEIU United Service Workers West, which has been negotiating with Safeway’s janitorial service contractors for the last three months over a new union contract, which would include “green cleaning” standards.

The contractors are currently opposing the “green cleaning” proposals and Safeway is refusing to engage the workers on the issue. The union hopes to tie in its campaign with local concerns about potential negative public safety and environmental impacts of Safeway’s plans to expand the store.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...