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News ::
Second Week of Janitors' Strike sees more Civil Disobedience (english)
11 Oct 2002
Modified: 14 Oct 2002
Fourteen community members, including Cambridge State Representative
Jarrett Barrios, were arrested in an act of civil disobedience to
support the janitors of Service Employees' International Union (SEIU)
local 615 as they entered the second week of their strike. The act
was part of a full day of rallies and pickets to support the striking
The janitors' strike targets major downtown Boston buildings serviced
by contract cleaning agencies, especially UNICCO. The union's main
demands revolve around health care, full-time employment, and wages.
Under their current contract, janitors must work twenty-nine hours per
week in order to qualify for health care, but only one in four reach
that threshold.

Earlier in the day, about two hundred students and professors from
Northeastern University Law School walked out of their classes in a
show of support for the janitors. Northeastern uses cleaning
contractor Conslidated Service Corporation, which in turn employs
janitors from local 615. Then, in a later rally organized by the
Boston Student Labor Action Project, about two hundred students and
professors from area schools, including Northeastern, Boston College,
Stonehill College, Suffolk University, Harvard University, and thez
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, marched from the Boylston
St. subway station to One Hundred Summer Street, carrying signs like
"MIT Students for Justice For Janitors" as well as traditional
left-wing symbols like the red-and-black flag of anarcho-syndicalism.

There the students met about two hundred janitors and the combined
group snaked their way through downtown to the corner of Milk Street
and Post Office Square, where they encircled the intersection. The
fourteen activists stepped to the middle of circle, where they sat
down in the middle of the street and were arrested by the Special
Operations police on hand.

The rally, part of the strikers' ongoing strategy of nightly street
rallies and civil disobedience downtown, had a festive air. Janitors,
students, and community members alike chanted Spanish-language slogans
such as "Boston, escucha! Estamos en la lucha!"-- "Boston,
listen! We're here to fight!". (Nearly all of the janitors are
immigrants from Latin America, and speak either Spanish or Portuguese
as their first language.) Drummers banged out rhythyms with snare
drums, empty water jugs, wooden pickets, or whatever they could get
their hands on. Whistles and noisemakers accompanied. Immediately
following the arrests, SEIU leaders led the entire rally in jumping up
and down to express their joy.

The rally was also a family affair. Reina and Jose Guevara, two
janitors who moved here from El Salvador, brought with them two of
their children, 10-year-old Sara and 9-year-old Raul. Reina is one of
7 full-time workers of a crew of forty people at the building she
cleans. She says she's fighitng for respect and dignity, and if she's
nervous, it doesn't show in her face. At times, it seems Sara was
more enthused by the rally than her parents. Sara, who acted as a
translator for her mother, has come to rally everyday after her school
in Chelsea. She says that she comes because she's fighting so that
when she grows up she doesn't have to be a janitor, and she can
instead follow her dream, to be a union organizer. Sara's birthday is
approaching soon, and when Reina told her that she would not get a
present this year because of the strike, Sara told Reina that coming
to the rallies was enough for her.

Many of the students were there for more ideological reasons. Reis
Hansen, a Stonehill College student involved with Boston Student Labor
Action Project, wore a T-shirt with an upside-down American flag with
words like "classism" and "exploitation" written on it. He shared a
sign with Rob Laurent, a member of the Executive Board of Suffolk
University Students for Peace and Justice. Laurent says he's there
because "This is everybody's struggle. All struggles start with
labor...Labor is democracy."
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Northeastern Student Government supports SEIU (english)
11 Oct 2002
While the NU Law school and other students staged their walkout of classes in support of the SEIU and the janitors, the undergraduate Student Government Association was passing legislation stating their support of the striking janitors and their struggle for fair wages and health care. An official statement will be issued very soon.

Northeastern employs 175 janitors through Consolidated Services, and 72% of them are fully benefited full-time workers. With the added pressure of the Student Goverment and the Law school supporting the janitors, it is a short matter of time before the administration also makes issues their support.
What? (english)
12 Oct 2002
I'm real smart but I';m a fag, so I'll just shove this spoon up my ass. Thank you very much.
Don't get me wrong, but..... (english)
12 Oct 2002
Modified: 16 Oct 2002
I'm sure the janitors ARE a valid issue, but just in case you haven't read the papers recently, we are about to go to WAR! Maybe now is the time to get FOCUSED on this issue! What do you think?
anti-warer in solidarity (english)
14 Oct 2002
On the surface, yes, it may seem that going to war and the massacre of life, as it is, might be more important for us to focus on.. It's obvious that the life vs. death scenario compared to simple struggles of the working class is in a more dire sense of emergency. However what would we gain by ignoring "smaller" struggles in the face of fear? Actually I should ask what we might loose...
The power of resistence almost feels as if it's alas alive again in Boston and shouldn't we try and learn from what's going on in the streets, instead of disecting movements? These janitors are mostly immigrants, speaking from the direct result of American imperialism. We need to rise from under the belt of all our oppressors, whether they're holding a bullet or a paycheck...
The dedication and energy of these strikers is more of what we need in all our other lefty liberal ventures... Why don't we all walk out of OUR corporate enterprises, our milatery funded schools, and make some demands on our government, put our livelihoods on the line for once?
If you were true to your cause of peace in the world, you would try and create it in your immediate community, just as well. Just as you have a lot to learn from these workers, risking everything they have to gain more control of their own lives, they too could learn from you.. Bring your anti-war w/ Iraq propaganda to their demonstrations, or better yet try communicating with these people..
And by the way, Boston Indymedia tries to maintain a vehicle for all different kinds of struggles. We put up stories that people write.
So if you want more media attention to Iraq, which I too wish was more visible, create that media yourself.