Union Members Nationwide Pledge More than $500,000 to Houston Janitors Fight
Twenty Eight Arrested in Second Act of Civil Disobedience Today
HOUSTON, TX—SEIU Local Unions from around the country, along with the Service Employees International Union, today pledged more than half a million dollars to the janitors strike in Houston. “All eyes are on Houston,” said SEIU Executive Vice President Valarie Long. “The fight for good jobs is critical to every one of us in this country. Our members are on the front lines of this fight in city after city, and are proud of the janitors in Houston for standing up for a better future.
“This generous contribution is just a start. While we hope the building owners and cleaning companies will do the right thing and end poverty wages, we will make sure that the janitors in Houston have the money to keep fighting as long as they need to.”
For the second time in one day, activists supporting the janitors shut down an intersection in an act of peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience. Twenty eight of the janitors’ supporters were arrested this evening, bringing the total number of non-violent arrests up to 69. Earlier in the day ten people were arrested for blocking traffic during morning rush hour. Yesterday, seven people, including 5 janitors, were arrested after participating in similar acts of civil disobedience.
Janitors and activists are protesting to draw attention to low wages and difficult working conditions. Houston’s janitors are some of the lowest paid in the nation, earning as little as $9,000 annually to clean some of most valuable buildings in the city.
Cleaning contractors pay significantly higher wages to janitors working in cities with weaker markets and lower rental rates, such as Chicago, Cincinnati, Orange County, and Cleveland. For example, in Detroit where vacancy rates are 6.3 percent higher and rental rates are more than five dollars lower, janitors make more than $11.17 an hour.
Janitors are in the fourth week of an unfair labor practice strike after cleaning contractors like New York-based Pritchard, New York-based ABM, and Denmark-based ISS fired, threatened and intimidated workers as janitors started to speak up for fair wages and better conditions.