Houston Janitors Strike

November 6, 2006

On October 23, 1,700 janitors in Houston, members of the Service Employees International Union, went on strike against five Houston cleaning companies. The workers are predominantly from oppressed minority groups.

The janitors are demanding a salary increase from $5.25/hour to $8.50/hour, increased hours, and health insurance. The workers are demanding a uniform, city-wide contract that would cover 5,000 janitors who recently organized themselves into a union.

The strike is winning broad support. In Houston several mass rallies have been held; dozens of other unions and community organizations have come out to support the strike. The union has also set up picket lines in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Sacramento and Washington, D.C. at buildings cleaned by the same companies as those struck in Houston.

The central issues in the strike - starvation wages, part-time jobs and no health insurance - affect tens of millions of workers. In the Houston-area alone more than 1 million workers do not have health insurance and 8 out of 10 new jobs are in the low-wage service sector.

The strike of the Houston janitors is a another declaration by the workers that these conditions must be changed. The strike is a harbinger of many more struggles which lie ahead.