Houston janitors' strike ends in contract

by Chris Sturr | November 28, 2006

On November 20, The Washington Post reports

After a month-long strike featuring local, national, and international demonstrations, Houston janitors reached an agreement with five major cleaning contractors that will double their income and provide them with health insurance by 2009. 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 [employer-subsidized] health coverage in 2009. … [The] announcement marked the first victory in the right-to-work South for SEIU’s long-running Justice for Janitors campaign. … “If Houston janitors can win by standing together, then workers anywhere can win by standing together,” said SEIU spokesperson Lynda Tran.

Houston’s ABC station’s blog offers a few more details of the agreement as well as a sigh of relief that Houstonians will suffer “No more random traffic jams in the Galleria or Downtown!” (Most of the blog readers’ comments are a little less tongue-in-cheek.)

Also pay a visit to the janitors’ website.

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2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Wow…the most shocking thing about all of this is that it took a month for the cleaning companies to agree to $7.75 per hour, not exactly much of a living wage, but apparently the cleaning companies viewed that $2.00 an hour pay increase as quite the kings ransom and the demand from the janitors that they be paid enough to afford rent AND food as outrageous, and health care coverage? well that just takes valuable money away from new monocle shammy’s and the like. But in the end the janitors and SEIU won, showing that unions are not gone, and the power of civil disobedience is as potent as ever. I have alot of hope for the future of SEIU, it’s a new union for a new economy, I like that they focus on the underrepresented service sector, and that they aren’t afraid to take their fight to the street and raise some hell.

  2. Yeah, the terms of the agreement, and the size of the fight required to win just that much is disheartening. But I do hope that the SEIU folks who are trumpeting a real second chance for unionization in the South are right.

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