Houston USA: Justice for Janitors campaign needs your active support now

Submitted by AWL on 27 October, 2006 - 3:49

Thousands of migrant cleaners are on strike in Houston, the 4th most important city in the US - and Bush territory.

The cleaners, many of whom are undocumented migrants from Mexico, clean the majority of Houston's office buildings. They receive the lowest wages and benefits of any major city in the U.S -- only 4,16* per hour and no health insurance coverage while cleaning the most important oil companies' headquarters in the world and the most important global real-estate corporations.
Cleaning companies recently threatened to deport undocumented cleaners who support the strike to break union efforts (Texas has one of the harshest political climates, i.e. anti-labour and anti-migrant).
Why are the cleaners on strike? After voting to form a union last year, 5,300 cleaners have been negotiating their first labor contract with Houston's large cleaning companies. Cleaners seek 6,69* per hour, health insurance, and more full-time jobs (many companies give cleaners only 3-4 hours of work a day, meaning they earn only 15,70* per day). Despite months of negotiations, the big cleaning companies have refused to offer even modest improvements to cleaners. And the companies have intimidated and fired cleaners who are struggling for desperately needed improvements, prompting SEIU to formally charge the companies with 23 violations of U.S. labor laws.
In response to the companies' actions, cleaners began a strike on October 23. Roughly 1,700 cleaners have walked off their jobs so far, with more set to join them as part of a phased-in, escalating strike plan. Many migrant rights organizations, local politicians and churches have joined with cleaners to support them but it's not enough.

This labor dispute needs global support!

This is what you can do now:
(1) Take action on the internet: Go to the campaign website and participate in the online actions against these greedy companies. Go to "Take Action" at http://www.houstonjanitors.org/get-involved/ On the website, you can also access podcasts that allow you to hear directly from cleaners about why they're striking.
(2) Take direct action in Europe: Two of the biggest property owners in Houston's real-estate industry are global corporations that own huge portions of Houston's office buildings and have failed to ensure that their cleaning companies do the right thing.
We are planning direct actions on these companies in Europe on Nov. 1st and beyond until victory. If you live in a large European city and you can organize something let us know at val@kein.org - we will send you the sites in your city and materials.
Hines (www.hines.com) is one of the world's largest real-estate companies, owning more than 10 billion euros of properties in 85 countries. It has operations throughout Europe, with premier office buildings in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Milan, Warsaw, etc. The second company is Chevron, one of the most important oil corporations in the U.S. ... No need to say anything more.
En solidaridad,
Valery Alzaga
http://www.houstonjanitors.org/

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