Protest comes one day after politicians, European workers meet and express solidarity with Houston janitors
Contact: Paloma Martinez, 832.493.4839
Houston, TX— An international delegation of janitors who work for one of the same major companies that Houston janitors work for are here in Houston to investigate working conditions, free speech rights, and police aggression against American workers. On Friday, June 22, they joined with local activists and janitors at Tranquility Park before marching to nearby 811 Main to call on the building’s owner, Hines, and other influential corporate real estate owners in Houston to create good jobs for our city and ensure that the rights of janitors who clean their buildings are protected.
On Thursday, June 21st, the international delegation from Spain, the Netherlands, and Denmark—where Houston janitorial contractor ISS is based—met with janitors and airport workers and were shocked to learn about the vast difference in wages, working conditions and overall treatment of Houston service workers compared to their experiences.
“We are shocked at the working conditions and low wages,” said Henrietta Olofsen, a representative from Union 3f in Denmark. “These are not first world conditions. We are going back to Denmark, where ISS is based, to ask them to live up to the standards they uphold in Europe in the U. S. too.”
The delegation also met with a representative from Houston City Council Member C.O. Bradford’s office and State Representative Armando Walle, who pledged to join them in calling on cleaning contractors, building owners, and the city’s leaders to ensure the safety of workers engaging in protests.
After hearing powerful testimony from the European delegation, the Houston janitors—many of whom are paid less than $9,000 a year—marched to the building and held a rally outside along with members of community organizations, including Good Jobs Great Houston and Texas Organizing Project.
Houston based Hines Interests is a one of the largest private real estate developers in the world. Gerald Hines, the company’s owner and founder, has an estimated personal net worth of $1.3 billion. On average, the janitors who clean Hines’s Houston properties are paid less than half the federal poverty level.
“I want the European delegation to go back to the owners of ISS and tell them that we’re going to fight until we win,” said Adriana Vasquez, a janitor who works for ISS at Chase Tower. “It’s not right that janitors here should be treated so much worse than janitors in Europe. I feel like we’re living in the Stone Age.”
Hines owned and/or managed properties include some of Houston’s most prominent downtown office properties, including JPMorgan Chase Tower where last week, Houston police horses trampled the protestors as they crossed the street to rally in front of Chase Tower.