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Friday, November 03, 2006

Janitors Union

In the New York Times today, there is an article that talks about a labor union in Houston in which janitors have gone on strike demanding a wage increase from $5.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour. The company however says this request is a "62 percent increase, along with health insurance, is unrealistic." However the janitors claim that they are only asking for enough to support their families despite the fact they only work four hours a day.

The union which is called the Service Employees International union in an effort to aid this endeavor "has sent strikers to picket office buildings in Chicago, Jersey City, Los Angeles and Sacramento, enlisting janitors in those cities to honor the picket lines and disrupting cleaning operations there." Previously, the union has distributed leaflets at its offices in Berlin, London, Mexico City and Moscow in order to pressure one of the largest real estate companies. A professor at the University of Houston notes that "If the issue is only money, this should be settled quickly. But if the cleaning companies want to break the union in Houston, it's going to be a hell of a fight."

"We think the cleaning companies have plenty of money to give us a raise" said Ms. Taboada, who earns $5.15 an hour after six years as a janitor. "It's just not fair, $5.15 an hour. We have to mop, take out the trash, clean the computers." What she is failing to consider is she took this job under her own choice knowing how much she was going to make an hour. Although this might not seem fair because maybe she trainedtrianed for any other type of employment and circumstances are such that she cannot get that training. However, the market is putting the price of labor at $5.15 an hour for providing this service and if individuals were not willing to work for this wage given living costs they would not take this job and the firm would be forced to raise the wage it is paying in order to get people in the door. If the individuals no longer wish to work for that wage they have the opportunity to move into a difprofessionfession in which they could make more money. The only reason the company should be held liable is if they are unfairly treating their employees or if they lied in the contract saying the employee's would receive a higher wage.

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