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The hard-working folks who help keep Houston clean, and their newly formed SEIU union, send in an update on the on-going struggle for decent and comparable pay for Houston’s Janitors. For the latest on the strike and its national implications and supporters, check http://houstonjanitors.org/
Janitors, Community Supporters Intensify Calls on Hines, Chevron, Transwestern, Crescent, and Brookfield Properties to Ensure Good Jobs with Health Care for Houston Families
Janitors’ supporters block intersection of Post Oak and Westheimer in protest of real estate industry’s stance
HOUSTON—Janitors and community supporters intensified their calls on the five economic powerhouses who drive the commercial real estate industry in Houston to ensure good jobs with health insurance for Houston families. The five landlords have the power to settle the 2-week old strike by directing the cleaning contractors they hire to provide the wages, benefits, and work hours janitors need to support their families. Today community supporters protested the real estate industry’s failure to ensure good jobs with health care in Houston by engaging in an act of non-violent civil disobedience by closing the intersection of Post Oak and Westheimer in the Galleria area.
José Rios spends five nights a week cleaning six floors of Chevron’s downtown Houston office building. For just $20 a night and no benefits he has to clean and vacuum six floors in just four hours. “Chevron can afford to provide more for workers. It’s very hard for someone my age to do this kind of work but what other choice do I have?” said Rios, 70. As a building owner and office tenant, Chevron controls more real estate in Houston than any other company.
At the Westin Hotel today, while Houston’s commercial real estate elite gathered to discuss ways for the multi-billion dollar industry to increase revenues, janitors and community supporters at the hotel invited representatives of the five companies to take a break from the meeting and resolve the strike.
Building owners and managers negotiate and set rates with the janitorial contractors who keep their buildings clean and employ the janitors. Current janitorial service contracts do not allow for higher wages or health insurance for janitors. The janitors are calling on individual building owners and mangers to direct their contractors to meet the janitors’ proposal of $8.50 per hour, more work hours, and health insurance, and to tell their contractors to bargain in good faith with the union as the law requires.
National, International Support for Houston Janitors
Houston’s janitors are receiving national and international support from other SEIU members, sister unions, and community organizations. SEIU janitors in Los Angeles and Chicago have honored Houston picket lines already this week with janitors in other cities expected to follow suit in the coming days. Next week, Houston picket lines could be set up simultaneously in at least half a dozen cities around the country.
Internationally, there have been delegations by union activists in Mexico City, Moscow, Berlin and London calling on Hines—Houston’s largest landlord—to stop standing in the way of Houston janitors’ efforts to move out of poverty. Similar actions have been held at Chevron-owned gas stations in London and Utrecht, Netherlands. This week and next supportive members of labor unions in nine other countries—England, France, Italy, Argentina, Panama, Brazil, Poland, Germany, and Australia—are planning delegations to properties owned by Hines and Chevron in support of Houston janitors.
For the latest on the strike and its national implications and supporters, check http://houstonjanitors.org/