The day before 3,200 janitors’ contract expires…
Houston Janitors Urge Energy Giants to Support Good Jobs and Restore Balance to “Millionaire City”
Houston| Days after unanimously voting to authorize a strike if necessary, hundreds of Houston janitors, whose contract expires on May 31st, urged energy giants Chevron and Exxon to uphold their principles of corporate responsibility by supporting good jobs to revitalize Houston’s most neglected communities.
“Going on strike is not an easy decision to make, but we may have to do it,” says janitor Marisol Quintana. “In 2006 we proved that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things and we are prepared to do it again.”
Houston janitors clean the offices of some of the richest corporations in the world, including profitable energy corporations Chevron, Exxon Mobile, Shell Oil, Penzoil, Centerpoint Energy and Reliant. Janitors reached impasse during their contract talks after some of the nation’s largest cleaning contractors insisted on continuing to pay wages that would keep workers in poverty and contribute to growing income inequity in Houston. To restore balance to our economy and to be able to make ends meet, Houston workers need $10 an hour—and that is what janitors are asking for.
“This isn’t just about janitors anymore,” says janitor Elena Delgado. “We want to make this city a fair place for people who work hard. All work should be respected.”
Despite working in the US city with the most millionaires, janitors who clean Houston’s office buildings are paid less than $9,000 a year—less than half the poverty level. A janitor would have to work more than 2,000 years in order to earn what the Exxon and Chevron CEOs make in just one year.
In 2006, tired of working in deplorable conditions, more than 3,000 janitors went on strike for a better future for their families with dozens arrested in acts of civil disobedience. The five-week strike captured national attention and the support of religious leaders, elected officials and Houstonians alike, winning the janitors their first union contract.
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