HOUSTON– As wealth disparity continues to rise in Houston and across the country, hundreds of janitors and community leaders rallied on Saturday at the janitors’ contract convention to call on the richest 1% to do their fair share and create good middle class jobs for our city. The April 14th convention kicked off the janitors’ preparations for new contract negotiations, which begin on April 24th and impact about 3,200 Houston janitors.
With more millionaires than any other US city and a booming oil industry, Houston should be a great place to live and work. Yet Texas has the highest number of minimum wage jobs in the nation and the number of Houston families forced to turn to public assistance has skyrocketed.
“They say that our economy has recovered, but that’s not the reality for my family,” says Ascencion Blanco, who works as a janitor at American Tower in downtown Houston. “I work as hard as I ever, but everything has gotten more expensive—gas, food, rent. It shouldn’t be this hard to survive in a city like Houston.”
Bargaining a new union contract with fair wage increases will enable Houston janitors to provide for their families, but that alone won’t restore balance to the economy. That’s why janitors are joining with workers across the city, with clergy and community leaders, and with the rest of the 99% to call on banks, corporate executives, and the oil industry to do their part to balance our economy—to create good jobs, and raise wages. Janitors ended the rally with a march to the intersection of Westheimer and Post Oak, one of the busiest intersections in the heart of Houston’s Galleria business district.
“I clean the offices of J.P. Morgan Chase, yet sometimes I have to choose between buying food or a metro pass so I can get to work,” says Adriana Vazquez, who works as a janitor at Chase Tower downtown. I sometimes ask myself ‘I work so hard and what do I have to show for it?’ All we ask for is fairness for a hard day’s work.”
In spite of their hard work, the average Houston janitor is paid less than$9,000 a year—less than half the federal poverty level for a family of three.