NoVA Janitors Strike

Monday, July 16, 2007

More than 30 janitors walked off the job Tuesday in Arlington, VA after being harassed for organizing a union. "Hardworking janitors in the Capital area are making their voices heard and standing up for the American Dream, just as DC janitors did in the late 1990s," said Jaime Contreras, SEIU Local 32BJ Capital Area Director. Buildings affected by the 1-day strike against American Painting and Janitorial (AP&J) include The Rosslyn Plaza in Rosslyn and several Vorando Realty Trust-owned office buildings in Crystal City; the janitors returned to work on Wednesday. Last month Local 32BJ launched a Northern Virginia organizing drive involving more than 5,000 janitors, most of whom are Hispanic immigrant workers organizing to improve their lives and support their families. In response to the janitors' organizing efforts, the union reports that AP&J has blatantly tried to intimidate workers, trying to ban workers from talking with union representatives during their off hours, conducting illegal surveillance as they meet with union representatives during non-work time, and threatening to call the police when workers met with union representatives during non-working hours. "Janitors employed by AP&J in Northern Virginia earn as little as $6.50 per hour with no meaningful benefits," says Local 32BJ Organizing Director Maria Naranjo, "That's one-third less than their counterparts in Washington, who are members of Local 32BJ and earn wages from $9 to $10 per hour and many of them have employer-paid health care coverage." With more than 85,000 members in six states, including 9,000 in the Washington DC-Maryland area, Local 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country. Photos by Rich Gibson


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