Janitors picket Silicon Valley companies

May 20, 2008 7:24:37 PM PDT
Thousands of janitors working at the biggest Silicon Valley companies are on strike Tuesday; demanding the tech leaders take action to help the janitors make a livable wage. The janitors who clean some of the signature buildings in the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area are on the picket lines. An estimated 6,000 union workers voted to strike after rejecting the latest offer from their companies.

At this time, we were told that janitors are walking out of Hewlet Packard and Oracle buildings. There are no new negotiations at this time, and Teamsters refused to cross the lines in order to pick up the trash at Cisco.

Janitors who would normally start work at 5 a.m. inside the Cisco building in San Jose reported to the picket lines instead. Janitors began a strike Tuesday against some of the most well known names in the tech industry. Elsa Guich, who immigrated from Peru, says a janitors make just $23,000 a year, which is not enough to live on in the Bay Area.

"This is not enough. We are struggling to pay bills and the rent," she says.

Elsa says in one of the most expensive areas in the country and working for the richest companies in the world, the pay should pay be better.

"We are living in poverty. We come to this country to improve our lives and still have to struggle."

On Saturday, more than 6,000 members of the Service Employee International Union voted to walk out of bio tech and hi tech buildings all over the Bay Area. The dispute is over health care co-payment increases and a raise.

"We want more money, more insurance," says Tomas Lopez.

The strike is expected to spread throughout the Bay Area and began Tuesday at Yahoo and Cisco and is spreading. Cisco representatives issued this statement:

"Please note that this is a contract dispute between a third-party service provider and its employees. This is not a dispute between Cisco and its employees."

The janitors work for 15 Bay Area cleaning companies. Union representatives accuse the companies of not being fair to their local workers.

"They already make less than the L.A. janitors, two dollars less. Seven dollars less than the janitors in San Francisco working for the same companies." say union spokesman Mike Garcia.

All 15 companies are represented by James Beard, who would not talk to us on camera or discuss the details of the failed negotiations. He issued this response:

"We remain hopeful of a resolution in the mutual best interest of workers and our customers. In the meantime, the contractors will continue to carry out normal operations for our customers."

The companies have already hired replacement workers for these strikers.

The Communication Workers Union told us they will allow their workers honor these picket lines. That could mean installation and repair of data telephone and fiber optic lines could be delayed until these janitors get their way.


Load Comments