Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The 5,300 mostly female, mostly Latino janitors represented by the Service Employees International Union will see their wages rise from $5.30 per hour on average to $7.75 by Jan. 1, 2009. Their shifts will also lengthen to six hours, as opposed to four hours or less, over the next three years, according to the agreement. They will be offered health coverage in 2009 for $20 a month for individuals, $175 for families. The janitors ratified the agreement Monday night at the city's convention center. They are expected to return to work today. The union said janitors who walked off the job on Oct. 23 will be allowed to return to their jobs. Yesterday's announcement marked the first victory in the right-to-work South for SEIU's long-running Justice for Janitors campaign that has organized low-wage workers at cleaning companies in 29 cities, including Washington. Union and management advocates said it signals a new phase of labor organization in the South. [...] Throughout the strike, the SEIU applied more pressure to the owners of the buildings cleaned by the Houston janitors than to the cleaning contractors that employ them. Building owners ultimately have to absorb the cost of higher wages and benefits for janitors, and the union accused this oil-enriched business community of hoarding energy profits while keeping janitors in poverty.Let's hope the union didn't have to promise not to see the Houston Police Department for false arrest and brutality as part of the agreement.
I have always been puzzled by the rightwing's animosity towards unions and collective bargaining. In a truly "free market," isn't labor free to pool their resources?
While I am very glad for all these hard-working people, their gains are chump change compared to the tax cuts Bush gave to Tom Cruise and Paris Hilton.
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