5/24/08

SEIU high-tech janitors strike, day 4

Hundreds of janitors who want better wages and health care protested Friday in front of Cisco Systems Inc. in San Jose, according to the Service Employees International Union. Holding signs that read "Health Care For Working Families," "A Better Future is Worth Fighting For" and "Justice For Janitors," the approximately 400 janitors who participated in the rally today made up day four of the strike, union spokeswoman Gina Bowers said.

The Silicon Valley/Bay Area janitors, who clean for companies including Oracle, Cisco Systems Inc., Bishop Ranch, Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo and City Center, are asking for increase to their annual wage from the current $23,000 and to shorten the two-and-a-half year wait to gain health care coverage for their family members, according to Bowers.

The janitors were crammed in the intersection of Zanker Road at East Tasman Drive, marching through the crosswalks amid a sea of police cars, Bowers said.

Contract talks for more than 6,000 janitors ended May 15 after the Bay Area's largest cleaning companies and the janitors could not reach an agreement on wages and benefits, according to Bowers.

The janitors began their strike Tuesday.

Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, issued a statement Friday which offered his support to the janitors and their families.

"This week, when janitors traded their brooms for picket signs, they also sent a message about the urgent need for good paying jobs with health care and dignity to ensure that families aren't just surviving, but thriving. By speaking out against the injustice of having to share a home with other families just to stay alive, these hardworking janitors are demonstrating their abiding faith in the power of hope - and paving the way for others around this country to follow in their footsteps," Obama said in his statement.

(cbs5.com)

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