10.12.2009

Invisible No More: Over 700 stand in unity in Houston for the Justice for Janitors Convention and March


by Jesse Muhammad

Some of us may see them as pBoldeople who just keep our toilets clean and office areas spotless. Some of us may have even made fun of one at our school for pushing cleaning carts or you refuse to leave them a tip when you're at a hotel.

But imagine one day without them. Yes, I am blogging about Janitors.

They have been called the "invisible workforce". Not only because they work throughout the night while we're sleeping but also they have been disrespected and taken for granted for far too long.

These are hard working people like you and on October 10 they sent a strong message in the Houston Galleria area that they are "invisible no more". The Galleria is one of the wealthiest and busiest districts in Houston. This was also the site where a huge 'Free Palestine' rally took place.



What was the purpose of this convention and march?

In 2006, Houston janitors stood up to win better jobs for Houston after they were forced to go on strike. They won a collective bargaining agreement that gave them access to affordable healthcare and raised their wages to $7.75. Their contract expires in November.

With negotiations to improve more than 3,200 local jobs set to start at the end of the month, Houston janitors hosted this convention and march to call for an economy that works for everyone. Speakers included representatives from Service Employees International Union (SEIU), U.S. Representive Sheila Jackson- Lee and Houston Mayoral candidate Annise Parker.

At the conclusion of the convention, we marched through the intersection of Post Oak and Westheimer, the scene of the janitors’ first civil disobedience during their '06 strike. The crowd swelled to over 700 with four more bus loads showing up at the Williams Tower. Houston City Council member Jolanda Jones marched the entire time at the front of the line stretching for blocks.

Did you know SEIU unites more than 50,000 property service workers throughout seven states in the Central United States? Members include janitors, security officers, residential doormen and maintenance workers, window cleaners, industrial workers, and theater and stadium workers.

I conducted several interviews. Look for more detailed coverage in an upcoming edition of The Final Call Newspaper.

View photos highlights below from the convention and march by Brother Jesse Blog!