San Jose janitors demand higher wages


At noon today about 200 to 300 janitors and their supporters will begin their march at San Jose City Hall on East Santa Clara Street. The march will move along Santa Clara to Almaden Boulevard, then on to Park Avenue ending at Cesar Chavez Plaza for a rally.

The Service Employees International Union Local 1877 represents the janitors, which is in the middle of negotiation talks on a contract that expired April 30.

"We agreed to extend our negotiations, and they are ongoing," said Sylvia Ruiz, spokeswoman for the union.

Los Angeles members of Local 1877 walked off jobs late Wednesday after contract talks broke down earlier in the day.

The main disputes in the negotiations center on wages and health care.

In Los Angeles the union would like to close a wage gap between the highest- and lowest-paid janitors in a two-tiered system

Janitors in Silicon Valley earn an annual average salary of $23,000, according to Ruiz.

"Right here in Silicon Valley where you have the most wealthy companies in the country, we are living multiple families in one bedroom apartments, sharing food and clothing to survive. The high-tech industry is thriving, while we struggle to support our families," Braulia Delgado Flores, a janitor cleaning a high-tech campus, said in a statement.

Flores works for ABM, a company that provides janitorial services to high-tech and other corporate clients in the Bay Area, according to the statement.

As for health care, workers are eligible for benefits after one year of employment but they must wait 2.5 years to cover their families. Ruiz said they are trying to reduce the time lag.

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