Janitors across the country are making their voices heard about the growing income inequality in America, starting with the industry that owns the very buildings they clean and maintain.
In dozens of cities, from New York to Chicago to Houston, janitors are protesting the growing income inequality between the richest 1% and the other 99%, while calling on the real estate industry to create good jobs. In Los Angeles today, hundreds of workers plan to march from the campus of UCLA through Westwood to draw attention to the impact of inequality on both working-class and middle class families.
"This year we are not just fighting for janitors," said union activist Guisell Martínez, "but for the entire 99% who are being held back from a better life." Martinez is a janitor with Able Building Maintenance, cleaning the offices of the 1%.
This spring, more than 100,000 janitors represented by SEIU plan to sit down and talk with some of the country's wealthiest companies about raising standards for workers. Despite working harder, income for 95 percent of American households has either stayed the same or fallen since 1970. In fact, income inequality is at its worst since the 1920s.
"We are at a place in our history where we must make a choice: Will we allow corporations and CEOs to destroy good jobs and the middle class along with them, or will we demand better?" asks SEIU Executive Vice President Valarie Long.
The corporate real estate industry is a prime example of how corporations perpetuate income inequality. The 20 highest paid CEOs in the industry averaged $9.6 million in total compensation in 2010--up 84 percent from 2009. While a handful of corporate real estate executives are cashing in, the workers who clean their buildings, mop their floors, and empty their trash are being asked to do with less.
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You can read more about janitors working together for good jobs at SEIU's Justice for Janitors page here.