Arrested Janitors Promise to Keep Protesting

Categories: Labor
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SEIULocal87 via Flickr
San Francisco police arrested 27 janitors yesterday at the corner of California and Montgomery after thousands of union folks took over the Financial District in a noisy, traffic-clogging protest.

Disgruntled janitors marched through roughly seven city blocks yesterday, toting signs that read "standing up for working families," and "janitors are the 99%," banging drums, blowing vuvuzelas, and pissing off drivers all the way.

Once they reached the intersection of California and Montgomery, 27 janitors plopped down and sat back-to-back holding a banner that read "Justice for Janitors." Because this act qualifies as civil disobedience, police zip-tied the janitors' hands and loaded this cleaning crew into an arrest van.

Most of those arrested were elderly and almost immediately released.

This march is the second large protest this week by the group, which is at a stalemate right now in negotiations with janitorial services contractors in over 400 buildings.

On July 31, the contract ended between janitors in Service Employees International Union Local 87 and janitorial service providers. Now, janitors are "being told that they must be prepared to pay up to $600 in health care co-pays a month," the group's written statement said.

Protest marches began last week with a few hundred janitors; and the size of the marches has grown exponentially, with yesterday's march reaching over 2,500 demonstrators, union spokeswoman Cecille Isidro told SF Weekly.

The union says it's not buying the tough-times argument from these corporations.

"San Francisco has one of the strongest commercial real estate markets," Isidro said. "Tech companies are flooding to the city. It's not a matter of business being slow."

Isidro gave us two good reasons why janitors are making all this noise: They want to provide health care for their families, and since they're cleaning up after people like you and me, they get their hands dirty. So naturally, they're prone to needing a doctor.

The group plans to continue negotiations today, but if a consensus is not met, they will "continue with these actions and marches," Isidro said.

Meanwhile, the alleged 1% in those 400+ buildings are looking for scab janitors on Craigslist to take out their trash. Funny thing is, they're offering $5.76 more per hour than they pay regular janitors, according to Isidro.

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