Amid Possible Strike, D.C. Labor and Occupy Movements March Together

Discussion in 'Media' started by hvactec, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. hvactec

    hvactec VIP Member

    Jan 17, 2010
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    New Jersey
    If Wall Street has become the symbolic nerve center for greed and inequality, its political traffic merges onto K Street, Washington DC’s Broadway for deep-pocketed corporate lobbyists.

    But like Wall Street, K Street is now also home to activists who are fed up with a system that rewards the wealthy while delivering nothing but cuts to the rest of us. Part of the general Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread around the country, “Occupy DC” activists are camped out in MacPherson Square where they are working to replicate the kind of occupation that has rocked the streets of New York’s financial district for the last month.

    This week, K Street was also part of a march route for building cleaners fighting for a fair contract. The workers – who are preparing for a possible strike in the coming days – marched shoulder to shoulder with Occupy DC protestors.

    With their contract that was set to expire on October 15 at 12:01 a.m. – a deadline that has now been extended to October 17 – members of SEIU 32BJ have voted to strike if a settlement is not reached. The union and other labor groups assembled at a park near MacPherson Square on Wednesday where they were joined by Occupy DC and other occupying protestors in the city.

    Chanting “Sí se puede” and “No contract, no peace,” close to 500 workers and their Occupy protest supporters marched in the rain through downtown donned in SEIU’s signature purple shirts and hats. Activists from MacPherson Square wore union-tagged parkas as they marched with a banner that read “Occupy DC.”

    The nearly 12,000 office cleaners who have been in contract negotiations since early September are fighting for fair raises, reasonable workload standards, and more full-time jobs with benefits. A large majority of the predominately Latino workforce is forced to work part-time, bringing home poverty wages and almost no benefits. Some workers make as little as $9 an hour. Many are expected to do the same amount of work in four hours with half the number of staff than they had only a few years ago.

    Meanwhile, DC’s commercial real estate sector is thriving, with one of the strongest markets in the nation. Cleaning companies in the Washington Service Contractors Association have been pushing back against workers who are demanding a contract that reflects the rising cost of living in the area. The companies claim that current wages and other terms agreed to in the 2007 contract were reasonable before the onset of the Great Recession from which they say the industry is still recovering.

    read more Amid Possible Strike, D.C. Labor and Occupy Movements March Together | Common Dreams

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