Calling Houston

by Harry on November 22, 2006

Belated congratulations to the janitors in Houston. The pattern of events is strangely familiar to some of us; but none the worse for that. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Brilliant.



thetruth 11.22.06 at 9:40 pm

The contract will allow workers-many for the first time in their lives-paid time off from work.

That this sentence can be truthfully published in the 21st century and in the richest country in the world is a damned travesty and an indicator of the smallness – however welcome and deserved – of their victory.



bad Jim 11.23.06 at 3:35 am

Yay! Let’s hear it for the SEIU, the gutsiest union in the AFL-CIO!

In one demonstration in San Francisco against the Vietnam War, my friend and I encountered police on horses. We didn’t get trampled. While we were walking back to the car, a cop did poke his stick into my chest, perhaps because I was still sporting the wrong flag in my lapel.

As bad as the SF cops were thirty-some years ago, they weren’t even then on the same planet as their Houston counterparts.


koshembos 11.23.06 at 6:41 am

Let’s hope for many more victories like this one. Happy Thanksgiving.


peter ramus 11.23.06 at 11:07 am

The SEIU is gutsy, but it hasn’t been a part of the AFl-CIO for some time. It’s a member organization of the Change to Win coalition now.

Baldly, the Change to Win bunch favors organizing over preserving and extending what labor has by pushing candidates and influencing legislation, which is the chosen emphasis of the AFl-CIO.

Good on those janitors. Winning health care benefits that will cost a family $2100 of an income hovering around $15,000 a year may not seem like much of a victory to folks looking in from outside the US, but, given conditions here, it’s quite a gain for those workers.


harry b 11.23.06 at 12:41 pm

I was involved in the 1990 Century City strike (which Bread and Roses is NOT about, contrary to what the wiki entry says); I was an outsider organising supporters to march with the strikers, and in the end played a substantial part in the June 15th police riot, of which I am more proud by far than anything else I’ve done in politics. I was stunned by the victory that time round. It involved health benefits and paid vacation time and a measly raise — all things that we Europeans take for granted. But it was a fantastic gain for the workers (and for the 1500 other workers who had not been striking but were organized as part of the deal).

Small steps, lots of them backward, but occasionally one goes forward and we should celebrate, as peter ramus says.


agm 11.23.06 at 4:35 pm

It’s wonderful that these people now get paid somewhat better than some grad students. However, none of the pictures shown nor the video on the linked website indicate anything wrong on the part of HPD officers. It looked a lot more like them just doing their jobs. No trampling, no violence. The video had strange pauses and zooms, but I’m sorry, being pulled along out of the way by a cop by your sleeve and the like shown is not all that violent. The evidence provided does not establish the image wanted, that the cops were oppressing the janitors.


harry b 11.23.06 at 4:52 pm

Ahh, agm, let’s not get “more oppressed than thou” here. My own experience on the receiving end of police violence is a lot more dramatic than anything I saw on the site, too, but it doesn’t look like fun. Maybe we’ll see a flood of grad students switching to become janitors, now that the janitors get paid more! Or rather, in 2009, when they finally do get paid more.

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