Houston Janitors Vote “Yes” to Authorize Strike
Janitors call on all low wage workers to “Take Back Millionaire City”
HOUSTON — Houston janitors who clean the offices of some of the world’s wealthiest companies unanimously voted to give their bargaining committee the power to call a strike. Houston janitors also called on working people across the city to stand with them to restore fairness to our economy and good jobs to “Millionaire City.” Janitors could strike at any time.
“Going on strike is not an easy decision to make, but we may have to do it,” says janitor Marisol Quintana. “During the strike of 2006 we proved that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things and we are prepared to do it again.”
Janitors and contractors reached impasse during their contract talks, with both parties walking away from the table with no future bargaining dates set. The contract expired May 31st. Despite the Houston commercial real estate market being one of the healthiest in the nation, cleaning companies insist 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.
“Like many Houstonians, we are working harder and harder and falling further behind. Every day I see my neighborhood crumbling. Everyone says Houston is doing great, but that’s not the reality for many people,” says Sixta Gonzalez, a Houston janitor.
Despite the fact that Houston is home to more millionaires than any other US city, the city’s 3,200 janitors are struggling to raise families on less than $9,000 a year, a salary below half the poverty level. One in five workers in Houston are paid well below the estimated cost of living for a family of three. Janitors and community supporters are calling on cleaning companies, building owners and the richest corporations in the country to do their part and create good middle class jobs for Houston.
BACKGROUND: 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.