(June 9, 2016) — Puget Sound-area building owners and property managers are enjoying the booming office market, ranked one of the best in the nation. But their growing profit margins in a $3.2 billion rental income market are being made on the backs of their buildings’ janitors.
As SEIU 6 struggles to negotiate a fair contract to replace the one that expires June 30, the more than 3,000 janitors who clean and maintain commercial office space, hospitals and schools are turning up the heat. Last week, the M.L. King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO voted to grant SEIU 6 strike sanction. And next week, hundreds of janitors and their supporters will rally to demand Justice for Janitors.
TAKE A STAND — Stand with hundreds of hardworking janitors and their families to Raise America and get Justice for Janitors at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, June 17 at Seattle’s Westlake Park, 401 Pine St.
At their last contract bargaining in 2012, SEIU 6 janitors made concessions amid a dire situation of office buildings with low occupancy. But in 2016, instead of respecting workers and sharing the prosperity of the current boom with a fair contract, the industry is squeezing more work out of fewer and fewer workers, causing injuries. Janitors literally run to finish the unrealistic workloads and often forego their rights to breaks and lunch.
Janitors have a very high on-the-job injury rate, largely due to the increased workloads. Their work is also dangerous as they are exposed to hypodermic needles and other health hazards in their everyday work.
“Janitors who work hard should receive respect and good wages, not workers’ comp claims and physical therapy,” said Charles Pannell, a Seattle janitor for more than 25 years.
Last month, hundreds of janitors and their supporters rallied and marched from Westlake Park on May 13. Joining them was Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who said, “Janitors are being asked to work harder and harder. Those speed ups are causing more and more injuries. That is not acceptable.”
Janitors, usually invisible to building occupants, have been appreciative of the show of support they have already received from representatives of many unions, from truckers to teachers, hospital and home care workers, and community and faith-based organizations.
Stand in solidarity with them again on Friday, June 17 at 1:30 p.m. at Westlake Park in Seattle.
ALSO at The Stand — Like you, janitors just want a better life for their families (by Sergio Salinas)