Janitors in CA in solidarity with Houston janitors’ strike

Janitors strike in Houston spreads to eight cities

by: John Wojcik

Posted to peoplesworld.org July 16 2012


Tomorrow the Houston janitors’ strike, now in its second week, will spread to eight cities across the country.

The janitors, represented by Local 1 of the Service Employees International Union, will throw up picket lines in front of corporate offices in Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Seattle, San Ramon, Los Angeles and Oakland Calif., Boston, and Denver. The strikes are being called, the union says, to support the janitors in Houston.

There will also be support rallies in more than a dozen cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. SEIU represents some 150,000 janitors throughout the United States.

In Houston now 400 janitors are on strike in 18 buildings with more expected to join the strike this week

The strike has garnered significant national support.

Earlier this month the activist actor Danny Glover and Texas Representatives Al Green and Sheila Jackson, both Democrats, announced the formation of a task force to protect the janitor’s first amendment rights.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous spoke about the plight of the janitors during his keynote address at the NAACP’s convention in Houston last Monday.

“What’s happening in Houston is a microcosm of what’s happening to our whole country,” said Elsa Caballero, State Director for SEIU in Texas. “The gap between the richest one percent and working families is growing every day. It’s going to take bold action to rebuild our country’s middle class.”

The janitors’ contract in Houston expired on May 31. The janitors had requested a raise from $8.35 per hour to $10 per hour, spread over four years.

The janitorial contractors responded by offering only a 50-cent raise, spread over five years.

Saying that a pay scale like that would guarantee they remain in poverty, janitors turned down the offer.

When the companies responded to their rejection of the offer with harassment and intimidation the workers called a July 11 citywide strike.

In all eight cities affected by the strike this week, janitors clean the offices of some of the wealthiest corporations in the world including Chevron, Hines, Brookfield, Shell Oil, and JPMorgan Chase.

The low salaries in Houston are particularly disgraceful, the union says, because in that city commercial real estate is doing better than anywhere else in the U.S. Average commercial rents in Houston are higher than rents in Chicago, for example, where janitors are paid more than three times as much annually as Houston janitors.

Photo: Earlier this year, janitors represented by SEIU’s Local 1 demonstrated outside office buildings in Chicago’s financial district.   John Wojcik/PW


Defense Appropriations bill up for vote soon; call your representative









The Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013 may come up for a vote in the House of Representatives as early as Tuesday, July 17. The bill includes $519 billion for the basic military budget and $88.5 billion for the Afghanistan war, or 57% of  all 2013 federal appropriations, according to the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation http://armscontrolcenter.org/policy/securityspending/articles/fy13_hac/

Several members of Congress, including Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) are expected to offer amendments to cut total spending by anywhere from $1.1 billion to $19 billion.

In addition, Rep. Lee is expected to again offer the amendment she has proposed several times, to limit spending on the Afghanistan war to what is needed for a safe, responsible return home of all U.S. troops and contractors.

Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) are expected to propose an amendment barring use of funds past 2014 on any mission not having Congressional approval.

United for Peace and Justice (unitedforpeace.org) is asking people to call their representatives, urging them to vote Yes on amendments to cut spending, and No on the overall bill unless amendments pass to end funds for the Afghanistan war, end use of drones, and eliminate expensive and unneeded weapons systems.

(Based on an alert from the New Priorities Campaign, newprioritiescampaign.org)

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House continue to push for dismantling or major cuts to all sorts of domestic programs caring for human needs at home …