Janitors ratify new contract


The janitors, represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1877, first walked off the job on May 20. They clean approximately 80 percent of the commercial real estate in the South and East Bay areas including most of Silicon Valley's major high technology and biotechnology companies, according to union spokeswoman Gina Bowers. They will now return to work today.

"They work at night so they'll be back today. Some start as soon as 4 p.m.," Bowers said.

The vote was 588 in favor of the contract and 121 opposed, according to Bowers.

Veronica, a janitor opposed to the contract who did not want to give her last name, said raises of 60 cents an hour each year between now and 2011 are not enough.

"The rent's going up, up, up," Veronica said. "We deserve more. We are hard workers. We work hard for our families, for the companies."

San Jose Vice Mayor Dave Cortese was present at union headquarters in San Jose this afternoon for the ratification vote. He admitted that the janitors, who will now make $11.64 an hour, are at the bottom of the economic ladder.

"We've got to make sure that the ground floor isn't in the basement," Cortese said. "It's certainly not what most of us would want to try to live on ... but it's good to see that it's moving in the right direction."

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