Janitors continue pressure as negotiations' close draws near

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GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

As contract negotiations with several employers come to an end August 1, the SEIU Local 87 janitors union has been coming out in force. More than 1,000 rallied in Union Square and marched over the weekend. Today, 500 janitors marched through the financial district.

“If we don’t get no contract, you don’t get no peace,” the crowd chanted as it marched down Market, before turning on First towards Mission. The group periodically stopped to picket intersections.

In negotiations with the city, the Westfield Mall, and Macy’s, janitors risk a significant increase in monthly healthcare costs.

Members have voted to strike if demands are not met.

“Our members clean up after companies that got bailed out, and we’re getting screwed,” said Olga Miranda, president of Local 87.

“We depend on our hands. We work hard for our money, We're not looking for hand-outs.” a union janitor who preferred to be quoted as Elhady said.

“The trash can outside your office? The bathroom? The hallways? No matter how dirty it is, we do it,” Elhady said. “And we’re not given respect.”

After marching, leaders switched from English to Chinese to Spanish to Arabic as they rallied the crowd to continue fighting for health care benefits.

“We clean these buildings, and we’re proud of it,” Miranda said to cheers from the crowd. “Don’t take away my family’s health and welfare.”

Miranda laid out the next few days, telling that if they have not heard that a resolution has been reached by midnight August 1, “it means we have no contract.” However, she said that the strike would not begin immediately Wednesday.

Another action is planned for tomorrow at 2pm.

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