Houston, Texas—Several Houston Elected Officials are appealing to Houston’s wealthiest building owners to engage in the ongoing janitors strike asking them to ensure that the contractors they hire to clean their buildings come to a fair settlement with the janitors that raises wages and helps lift janitors out of poverty. The janitors’ union and cleaning contractors were in negotiations over a new contract on Thursday and Friday last week. They are expected to continue talking on Wednesday.
“We are here today to ask the business community to take a lead in urging cleaning companies to come to a fair resolution with janitors and act in the best interest of our city,” said Representative Armando Walle. “We are appealing one last time to support higher wages for our janitors,” stated Representative Sylvester Turner.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Representative Armando Walle, Congressman Gene Green, Representative Alma Allen, Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez, Councilmember Larry Green, and Council Member Jerry Davis attended the news conference. Rep. Walle read a statement of support signed on to by elected officials who could not attend the press conference in person. The following elected officials signed on to the statement below: Senator Rodney Ellis, Senator Mario Gallegos, Rep. Alma Allen, Rep. Harold Dutton, Rep. Jessica Farrar, Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna, Rep. Ron Reynolds, Rep. Sylvester Turner, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez, and Councilmember Jerry Davis.
Janitors in Houston have been on strike since July 10th and cleaning contractors have said that they believe that their offer of a 50 cent raise over 5 years—or $8.85 by the year 2017—was a fair wage. Currently, janitors make less than $9,000 a year despite cleaning buildings owned by some of the wealthiest corporations in the United States. Building owners ultimately decide how much they are willing to pay to have their offices cleaned.
While the Houston commercial real estate market is the best performing market in the U.S. in terms of demand, Houston janitors are some of the lowest paid in the nation. For example, even janitors in Detroit—where vacancy rates are 6.3 percent higher, and rental rates are more than five dollars lower—make $11.17 an hour.
Rep. S. Turner