After weeks of negotiations and a protest downtown, the union representing about 700 Baltimore janitors has approved a new contract granting 4 percent annual pay raises.

Union members passed the agreement unanimously, spokeswoman Julie Karant said in an email Monday.

The office cleaners, members of the Service Employees International Union, had been negotiating a new contract since Sept. 8 with representatives from major commercial cleaning companies in the region. They had threatened a strike if their demands for higher pay were not met by mid-October.

Current wages for the union's more than 700 Baltimore workers range from $10.90 an hour ($11,336 annually) for part-time cleaners to $11.40 an hour ($23,712 annually) for full-time cleaners.

The agreement covers nearly 12,000 janitors from Baltimore to Northern Virginia.

The custodians work for companies including Red Coats, American Building Maintenance and Building Maintenance Services. The companies arrange for custodians to clean about 40 buildings downtown, such as the Candler, Legg Mason and Bank of America buildings.

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