write op-ed articles

colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Sat Jun 2 16:01:58 CDT 2001

From: Matt Witt <WITTM at seiu.org>

FROM: Renee Asher, SEIU Campaign Communications Department

I want to let you know about an upcoming opportunity to write op-eds or 
articles about immigration reform, Justice for Janitors, and the need to 
truly leave no one behind in today's prosperity.

On June 15, Justice for Janitors Day, tens of thousands of workers, 
supporters, clergy, and political leaders across the country will be 
marching, rallying and participating in events to call for immigration reform.

Many will participate in a National Fast for Justice in support of living 
wages, affordable health care and immigration reform. Justice for Janitors 
Day commemorates the June 15, 1990 police riot against janitors in Los Angeles.

Some of the themes that could be part of op-eds and other articles include*
* More than 20,000 janitors on the east coast - from New York's New Jersey 
suburbs to Philadelphia's suburbs and Baltimore - are uniting this spring 
to join SEIU and win living wages, affordable health care, and full-time 
work.  Many make as little as $25 a day. Latino and African American 
janitors are working together to secure better jobs, affordable health 
insurance and pension benefits. They are building on the 3-week Justice for 
Janitors strike last year in Los Angeles that was followed by janitors' 
gains in many other cities.  Owners of the buildings they clean include 
some of the wealthiest individuals and corporations in the world.

* The desire by hard-working, tax-paying immigrants to earn their way to 
citizenship and achieve the American dream has captured the attention of a 
broad spectrum of officials and activists, from the Bush administration and 
Mexican President Vicente Fox to the students at Harvard University who 
staged a three-week sit-in on behalf of janitors and other service workers.

* There is common ground on the issue among voters. Polling by Lake, Snell, 
and Perry shows that American voters of both parties overwhelmingly support 
immigration reform that would give hard- working, taxpaying immigrants who 
have been in this country an opportunity to become U.S. citizens.

* Some of the guest worker initiatives now circulating on the Hill would 
create second-class citizens who lack the basic rights shared by other 
workers and would do nothing to improve the lives of immigrants already in 
the United States.

* With control of the Senate now in Democratic hands, there is new pressure 
on them to take a leadership role on immigration reform.

* Los Angeles may elect its first Latino mayor in more than a century, 
former union organizer Antonio Villaraigosa.

I have appended several fact sheets and SEIU's Tests for Immigration 
Reform. I can also provide you with polling data. If you are interested in 
writing and would like to talk to a janitor active in Justice for Janitors 
or a recent immigrant or other supporters of the Fast, please call me at 
301-581-0682 or e-mail me at asherr at seiu.org.

Justice for Janitor's Day
National Fast for Justice

v On June 15, SEIU is sponsoring a National Fast for Justice in support of 
the principle that all working people, regardless of race, background, 
gender, or immigration status, deserve a living wage, affordable health 
coverage, and a retirement with dignity.

v The goal of the fast is to bring attention to two major issues, the need 
to reform our immigration laws so that they give hard-working 
immigrants  an opportunity to earn their way to citizenship, and the need 
to pay all workers -regardless of immigration status-a living wage.

v We are asking immigrant workers, union members, political, community and 
religious leaders to support us in this fast by signing a pledge card. 
Organizations that sign on will be recognized on our web site and in our 
media materials.

v Most cities will start their fasts on the 14th with a candle light vigil 
or some other activity.

v On the 15th  major events are planned in Los Angles, Chicago, Boston, New 
York City and Philadelphia. Other events will be taking place in cities 
across the United States including Denver, Baltimore, and San Francisco.

v The Fast will take place on Justice for Janitors Day which marks the 11th 
anniversary of the Century City police riot, in which striking Century City 
janitors and supporters were brutally beaten by Los Angeles police.  The 
incident marked a turning point in the nationwide Justice for Janitors 
movement.  Since then hundreds of thousands of mostly immigrant janitors 
have organized to secure better wages and health insurance.

"What we are asking from the building owners and cleaning contractors is 
simple.  Respect our hard work and give us the chance to make the American 
dream come true for our families and our communities."
--Mirqueya Lluberes, janitor, Hoboken, NJ

"A triumphant organizing campaign that helped win Los Angeles janitors
big pay raises and health insurance last year is being brought
to the East Coast by one for the nation's largest unions."
--Associated Press

· The Justice for Janitors 2001 campaign unites 20,000 workers across the 
Mid-Atlantic Region, from the Northern NJ suburbs of NY, the Philadelphia 
suburbs, Baltimore, and Southern Montgomery County, MD. Workers who 
maintain 5000 office buildings are joining together with three SEIU local 
unions (32BJ in NJ, 36 in Philadelphia, and 82 in Maryland).

· Some janitors have already conducted strikes over unfair labor practices, 
and more may occur. SEIU janitors in other cities have pledged to honor 
picket lines if asked.

· Janitors' goals are a living wage, affordable health care, and full-time 
hours. Despite many profitable years for the real estate industry, most 
building service workers in these areas are paid poverty wages without 
affordable health coverage. For example, janitors in Baltimore make 
$5.15-$5.75 per hour, office cleaners in New Jersey earn approximately 
$6.50 per hour, and workers in the Philadelphia suburbs earn $7 per hour.

· Janitors' wages are significantly lower than those paid to their 
counterparts in nearby markets.  Workers in Northern NJ make $6.50 per hour 
with few benefits, while workers who do the same work in other NY City 
suburbs such as Fairfield County, Connecticut, will make $9 hour by the end 
of their contract-plus benefits.  Janitors in suburban Philadelphia make 
40% less than their co-workers who do the same work in downtown, and 
janitors in Baltimore make 29% less than those who work in nearby 
Washington, DC, less than an hour away.

· Janitors' low wages have no relationship to rents.  Janitors in Baltimore 
make at or near minimum wage, while janitors in Pittsburgh where the rents 
are roughly the same make $10.52. Philadelphia suburban rents are higher 
than the rents owners receive in downtown Philly, where workers earn $12.45 
per hour plus health insurance and pension benefits.

· Commercial building rental rates have increased 18% nationally over the 
last five years.   In the Philadelphia suburbs, rental rates have increased 
25% over the last five years.  In Baltimore's Class A rents have increased 
of 29% during the last five years.

· Justice for Janitors started in 1985 in Denver. SEIU currently represents 
more than 185,000 building service workers, making SEIU the largest 
building service union in the country.  With 1.4 million members, SEIU is 
the largest union in the AFL-CIO.

SEIU's 5 Tests for
Immigration Reform to
Reward Work

We are a nation of immigrants.  SEIU represents thousands of hard working, 
tax paying immigrants who are essential and productive contributors to our 
economy and our communities.  We need immigration reform that rewards work 
by providing a fair and efficient process for earning legal status.  As the 
largest union of immigrant workers, SEIU has developed these principles for 
REAL immigration reform:

v Reward work.  Hard-working, taxpaying immigrants should be able to earn 
legal status without years of complicated and expensive bureaucratic red tape.

v Stop exploitation.  Immigration status must not be used as a tool for 
employers to intimidate and exploit workers while gaining a competitive 
advantage against employers who are paying living wages, provide health 
care, and respect their workers.  Employers who pay decent wages and 
benefits should not be subject to sanctions for hiring immigrant workers.

v Keep families together. Immigrant workers should be allowed to remain 
with their families in this country as they are seeking to legalize their 

v Promote public health and educational opportunities.  Our entire society 
benefits when all working families, regardless of immigration status, have 
access to the education, health care, and public safety protection.

v Encourage civic participation.  Our laws should encourage immigrant 
workers to become U.S. citizens and fully participate in their communities, 
including voting and other rights and responsibilities of citizenship.


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