HOUSTON — Houston janitors ended a monthlong strike Monday against the city's five major cleaning companies after reaching a tentative agreement that will guarantee higher wages, more work hours and medical benefits.More here and here and here.
The settlement was hailed as a major victory for the 5,300 janitors who last year organized under the Service Employees International Union. It is the first citywide union contract since janitors formed a union last November.
"We're very happy, and our members are ecstatic," SEIU spokeswoman Lynda Tran said. "It's an incredible, incredible day and this is a major victory."
Under Monday's agreement, the SEIU janitors will get a 50.5 percent pay raise over the two-year contract. On Jan. 1, pay will increase to $6.25 an hour, a 21 percent increase over the current wage of $5.15 an hour. That will go up to $7.25 an hour on Jan. 1, 2008, and $7.75 on Jan. 1, 2009.
And the Houston Indy Media is hosting "an evening of films related to their struggle for better wages, health care and dignity, and other contemporary struggles of workers" on November 29.
$6.25 an hour, honestly, doesnn't seem like much, especially given the fact that these people are allowed to work only a 20-hour week. But it is progress, a sign that successful protest is possible. As symbolic victories go, this one seems huge.