SEIU announces tentative agreement for 2,800 Houston janitors

Janitors rallying in Texas in May

Late Wednesday night, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced a tentative agreement for a two-year contract with private facility management companies in Houston, Texas.

The deal was struck the day after the previous contract expired for 2,800 janitors in the city. Workers had voted to authorize strike action and were prepared to strike Tuesday night at midnight, but the SEIU kept them on the job while negotiations were being held behind the scenes. Prior to the contract’s expiration, Texas SEIU President Elsa Caballero made it clear a strike would not immediately occur as long as negotiations held up.

Under the previous contract, the starting wage for janitors, drawn largely from immigrants, was starvation rations of only $10.75 per hour. Workers with between one and four years’ experience got only a single sick day every year; workers with more than five years experience received two. That the union could ever have agreed to such terms, which are now below even starting wages for non-union workers at most fast food restaurants in the country (and even less after union dues are deducted), exposes it as little more than a cheap labor contractor.

The union had declared it was pushing for a pay increase to $15 per hour, as well as more sick days. But after the deal was announced, SEIU officials refused to release any details on the tentative agreement, on the bogus grounds that it had not yet been ratified by its members. In fact, if the union had obtained these demands it would be shouting it from the treetops.

Instead, SEIU Texas President Caballero issued a guarded statement in which she claimed, “[h]appily, after a record marathon negotiation, we were able to reach a tentative agreement that I think addresses many of their concerns.” This strongly suggests that the deal falls far short even of the modest demands raised by the union. Now the SEIU is forcing a snap vote on janitors this weekend, before they have had adequate time to study it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.