imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Houston Janitors Strike for Economic Justice

by Mark Vorpahl Saturday, Jul. 28, 2012 at 10:23 AM
info@workerscompass.org

Echoing the story of David vs. Goliath, janitors in Houston are on strike and taking on such corporate giants as JPMorganChase and Exxon Mobile in an effort to pressure the janitorial companies they employ to agree to the workers' modest demands. It is these big business behemoths that are the real powers behind cleaning contractors such as ABM, GCA, ISS etc. By striking against these contractors, and publicly targeting these contractors' employers, the janitors are using their collective power in a showdown that has great significance for not only the Labor Movement but all workers.

The janitors are members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, which has a membership of 3,200 in Houston. Currently, these workers' wages top out at .35 per hour. On average, they make under ,000 a year. The government defines the poverty line as an income of ,314 for a family of four and ,139 for an individual.

The janitors are asking for a .00 per hour starting wage. In response, the contractors offered a combined 50 cents an hour raise over the course of a five-year contract. With the growing cost of living over this time, these workers would sink even further into poverty if they accepted this. The contractors' proposal was nothing more than an insult.

Not content with merely insulting their employees, the contractors began to back up their position with injury. The janitors were subject to captive audience meetings where their jobs were threatened if they participated in union activity. Management warned that they would call for an immigration audit if the employees didn't quiet down. In addition, they also withheld paychecks of some union supporters. In all, 13 Unfair Labor Practices have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

The Union contract expired on May 31st. The janitors held a series of rallies and one-day work stoppages in order to convince management that they meant business. However, because these actions did not seriously impact the contractors' profits, they did not feel compelled to move. Consequently, the membership of SEIU Local 1 had no choice but vote to go on strike.

There are two features of this strike that make it exceptional.

One is how it highlights the growing inequality that exists in this nation and the need to fight it. Houston leads the nation in the growth of the number of millionaires. The companies targeted by the strike in its public campaign are some of the main players in the big business elite. On the other hand, not even the most rabid right-wing pro-corporate media can effectively portray the janitors as greedy unionists. This strike has the potential to tap into a growing discontent in the U.S. over inequality that helped launch Occupy as well as the Madison, Wisconsin Capital occupation in 2011.

The other exceptional feature of this struggle is the use of work stoppages and rallies nationally in solidarity with the Houston janitors. Solidarity strikes was one of the tactics employed by the CIO in the 1930s that propelled its rapid growth. Because of this tactic's effectiveness, it was outlawed in 1947 with the bi-partisan passage of the Taft-Hartley Act.

To get around the rigged rules of this slave labor law, many SEIU janitorial contracts have a "conscience clause." This clause enables janitors to refuse to cross a picket line at their work place without fear of penalty. As a result, picket lines have been set up in several cities at work sites that employ SEIU janitors, elevating the economic impact on the contractors, who are in Houston, to a national scale.

These contractors and their corporate employers are organized to pursue profits across the U.S. These profits are the only thing they care about. While they can more easily handle a strike isolated in one city, the nationwide solidarity work stoppage tactic employed by SEIU is much more difficult for them to deal with. If the bosses refuse to budge, it will be necessary to escalate this tactic further.

By highlighting the issue of inequality and countering the contractors with a nationwide response that uses work stoppages, SEIU is challenging the limits of the corporate political machine. It will be necessary to break these boundaries for Houston’s janitors, and all workers, to decisively win.

Currently, some Democratic politicians, such as Vice President Joe Biden, have voiced support for the strike. Given the massive funding both parties receive from Wall Street and the resulting pro-corporate policies they pursue, there should be no surprise that they either neglect or attack the issues of most importance to workers, so that such fine speeches like Biden’s have the appearance of cynical electioneering.

SEIU, and the unions in general, will not find a national voice by getting a seat at the table with these politicians who ignore or attempt to bind the membership's struggles. Instead Labor must devote its resources towards empowering its own members to fight for their own needs, without fear of offending the politicians, and create a social movement that speaks for all workers.

The demands that the Houston SEIU janitors are putting forward are extremely modest. However, their actions and organizing are growing more bold. They are already providing an example of greater struggles for economic justice in the near future.

For more information and to support the strike go to http://www.seiu1.org/



Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Irrémissible, l'inhumanité acquise en héritage S26 6:37AM

Addendum: Benjamin Tucker American Mutualist: Tucker Did Not Advocate Voting in Businesses S25 11:45PM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Celebrates 25 Years with the House of Hope Gala S24 7:10PM

Against the Rent Madness and For a Nonprofit Orientation! S24 11:56AM

Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme S24 6:35AM

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy