June 17 2019 at 11am a marching band started off a well attended rally at Skyline Park in downtown Denver Colorado. The rally and march was another action to build up for the next Master Agreement Contract in 2020, the same year that Justice for Janitors turns 30.
Justice for Janitors was made famous by the infamous Los Angeles Century City campaign, but few know that the first Justice for Janitors campaign was in Denver Colorado in 1986. An awfully cheezy Adrian Brody film about the L.A. campaign has been pushed out from the American Propaganda Arm in Hollywood California, “What is Justice for Janitors?” has been a Jeopardy question and dissertations have been written on the ground breaking tactics of the J4J campaigns. More importantly the movement of the previously thought ‘unorganizeable’ is still strong; nationwide 57% of SEIU Janitors make more than $15 an hour.
J4J was thought to be impossible 30 years ago, but instead of organizing shop by shop, as the trade and industrial unions had been doing since the Warner Act, the Organizers of J4J demanded that all janitors fall under the contract in each city. The push back was violent, at a Justice for Janitors Rally in 1990 in Los Angeles 60 people were arrested, numerous hospitalized from injuries and two women miscarried, the police violence was seen nationally on the news and the Janitors did not quit, returning to the battlefield to keep marching until bosses negotiated. This spirit lives on in the SEIU 105, they say every custodian, janitor and cleaner employed in Denver should make $15 an hour.
This will be a hot battle, J4J has one of the more militant histories in the labor movement. Today SEIU representative stoked the crowd saying, “We have to be ready to strike and we must fight longer and harder than the bosses! We Will Win.”
Veronica, a member and Janitor told War of the Flea through a translator, ”We are city workers, we clean the buildings, we keep the city clean and work really hard to give our families a better future, for our children to have a better future.We will take the streets, working hard organizing and being a part of this community. We are asking for Denver’s support because we are a part of this community, a big part.”
Numerous newly elected City Council members were present at the rally receiving SEIU dustbins, saying they will stand up for J4J when it is time for the negotiations. Veronica said, “ We support them and we hope they support us in 2020, they need to work with the cities employees.”
The rally turned into a march on 18th st, stopping and circling huge buildings, where members worked, disrupting casual dining and the work day in the financial district of Downtown.
Se Va! Se Siente! la union esta Presente!
The rally ended with disapproving bosses of some of the members trying to take power stances from their clean full windows on the second floor, but the people in the streets joined in supporting, honking and waving. Veronica and her fellow members were not scared because they knew
CUANDO LUCHAMOS, GANAMOS!