Bay Area janitors call for strike

May 17, 2008 7:23:22 PM PDT
Thousands of Bay Area janitors called for a strike Saturday that could impact some of the Bay Area's largest high-tech companies.

A loss of janitorial services will help them negotiate a better deal and on Saturday, more than 1,000 members of the Service Employees International Union held a rally in San Jose and voted unanimously to strike.

After three months of negotiations with 15 companies, the union rejected the contract proposal given to them on Friday. Union leaders said they were looking for a similar deal for janitors in the Los Angeles Area. That included a $1,000 a year wage increase and expanded pension and health care coverage. Janitors in the Bay Area average $23,000 a year and the lead negotiator for the janitorial service company says the latest contract proposal was very fair and included wage increases and health care coverage similar to the Los Angeles deal. Union members say the strike vote was the result of frustration.

"Building, housing and food has forced them over the brink. They are working two or three jobs just to survive. They are losing their houses. They don t have enough money to put food on the table. They are forced to go on strike to win a better contract and to win a better situation for themselves and their families," says Mark Garcia of the SCIU.

Other labor unions in the Bay Area have sanctioned the strike. So, workers who pick up trash or delivery drivers will not cross the picket lines at the companies these janitors are striking against. The union has not announced the exact day the strike will begin, but it will start sometime next week. The lead negotiator of the Janitorial Services Company says they remain open with communication with the union and contractors are prepared to continue janitorial services to its clients.


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