Justice for Janitors Day: Workers Highlight Efforts During Pandemic
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Today is Justice for Janitors Day, and workers are marking it by highlighting their crucial efforts during the pandemic.
Justice for Janitors Day commemorates a movement that began in Los Angeles in 1990, when striking workers were beaten by police and spurred the start of unions across the nation. About 2,000 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 janitors in the Portland region are kicking off bargaining their new contract as well.
Maggie Long, executive director of Local 49, said the workers have played a vital role during the pandemic.
"There's just been no question that, whether it was in the beginning of the pandemic disinfecting an infectious disease to now creating a space that is welcoming for people to come back, our workers have gone from invisible to essential," Long contended.
Long noted the janitors current contract expires on July 31.
Santa Gonzalez, a janitor at Nike and member of SEIU Local 49, said the company has been providing protections, but Gonzalez has coworkers who have contracted COVID-19, which highlights the risks she takes even with safety measures in place.
"We are taking a lot of precautions with gloves, washing hands, keeping things clean and disinfecting," Gonzalez explained. "But it is just one of the risks. I worry about my daughters, who aren't old enough yet to get the vaccine."
Long added janitors deserve to be recognized in upcoming negotiations for their work during the pandemic.
"As front-line essential workers, how are they paid accordingly for that?" Long asked. "Taking on dangerous and risky jobs, keeping buildings safe and secure? How do they make sure they have the PPE and protection they need, and how do they make sure that they're respected, protected and paid?"
Disclosure: SEIU Local 49 contributes to our fund for reporting on Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
LANSING, Mich. - High utility costs are a major burden for Michigan's low-income residents, and a new study says they have an impact on their health…
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A new report shows an effort by investor-owned utilities in the Sunshine State to block the growth of rooftop solar. The …
Health and Wellness
By Troy Pierson / Broadcast version by Mary Schuermann reporting for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration. As marijuana becomes more …
SALT LAKE CITY - With rising numbers of people targeted in hate crimes and related violence, a new report analyzes the hate-crime laws in each state…
BOSTON - Educators' unions are calling on the state to support their efforts to ensure in-person learning in the fall keeps students, teachers…
HARTFORD, Conn. - In Connecticut, more than 460,000 people care for close friends or family members who can't manage on their own - and their …
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Millions of Americans soon could find eviction notices on their front doors, but New Mexico renters will not be among them - as …
Health and Wellness
CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire advocates for affordable healthcare access want Congress to lower prescription costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate …