Houston Janitors Strike Takes a Victory

by Mark Simpson

August 2 brought an incredible and historical victory for the janitors strike. Because of the strike spreading to eight different cities the contractors were forced to begin negotiations with the SEIU (Service Employees International Union).

The talks ended at around 2:30 PM and will continue Friday. Bus loads of striking janitors were brought downtown to march up and down the streets drumming up support for their cause. I would estimate around 800 strikers and their supporters showed up.They marched with bullhorns,whistles,drums,and chants.Then everyone went back to the starting point and decided to free the strikers who were arrested the day before.

Seven were still being held in the downtown jail while the others had been released. Well before you knew it, everyone got on the buses and headed to the downtown jail,soon 800 strikers were massed outside the steps of the jail chanting "justice now" and "libertad!"

You could see they were determined to stay as long as it took.  One hour later, after 27 hours of incarceration, all seven strikers were released to the applause of the striking janitors. I have never seen anything like this in Houston in all my years as an activist.The freed SEIU members were as surprised as us as they came out to freedom smiling with their arms up in
the air.

You could see the class struggle in the starkest terms. The power of the union,of the people united winning a great victory, forcing the Houston police to free the seven workers. You could see new strength,hope and confidence in the faces of the men and women as they left to go home to rest so they could come back out tomorrow and continue their just struggle.


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