Category Archives: Viva La Union

Event: Up With The Workers! ~ Gulfton Forum on Wage Theft

From the Inbox

Saturday, July 28th at 2PM

Join us this Saturday at the Neighborhood Centers Baker-Ripley House (6500 Rookin St. 77074) for our first ever “Up with the Workers!” Gulfton Community Forum on Wage Theft. We’ll hear from community leaders, agencies, and organizations supporting workers in their struggle for just working conditions and recovering their due wages. We’ll also hear the latest from the Worker Center and the Down with Wage Theft Campaign…But most importantly, we’ll hear from YOU! Come share with us how wage theft has affected you or your community and how we can work together to bring down wage theft and make Houston a just and prosperous place to work!

For more information, email or call 713-862-8222

Texas Dem Chair Hinojosa Calls for Continued Support of Janitors

“It is like we’re disposable. They can use us for a while and then they just discard us, like if we were trash too.” –Hernan Trujillo, a Houston janitor tells the Houston Chronicle

“…Just because we’re janitors doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be treated with dignity and respect, but we’re not.” – Alice McAfee, a Houston janitor, tells the Houston Chronicle

Dear Democrats,

Last month we shared with you the story of a group of Houston janitors, many of whom are paid less than $9,000 a year. These men and women put in a hard day’s work every day, are paid less than half the federal poverty level, and are not treated with respect.

After a month of protests, hundreds of Houston janitors walked off the job to fight for a living wage, demand a better life, and to protest negotiations in bad faith from many of the employers. On Friday, Houston Mayor Annise Parker sided with the janitors and said that their actions of civil disobedience were appropriate.

No person should be treated as if they were not a human being.

During a strike by African American sanitation workers in 1968, workers held signs with the slogan “I AM a Man.” These men were striking after their request for better safety conditions fell on deaf ears. They made the requests after two workers were crushed to death at the workplace.


It’s not hard to draw the parallels to today’s striking janitors. Economic dignity and workplace safety are civil rights. People who work hard and play by the rules should earn the opportunity to have their families live with a level of dignity. Dr. King recognized this, which is why he supported the striking sanitation workers. In fact, the speech he gave at the strike was Dr. King’s last.

Sadly, dehumanization continues today. Many of Houston’s janitors are treated like less than people, and to paraphrase one of the striking janitors, discarded like trash.

Show the Houston janitors that you support their right to make a living wage by signing this petition.

This is about a belief that working men and women should be treated with dignity and respect. The strike that began in Houston has garnered national attention and has spread to six different cities across the nation.

Thank you for supporting our brothers and sisters.


Gilberto Hinojosa
Texas Democratic Party

Mayor Parker Calls For Renewed Negotiations With Janitors.

During this somber Friday, it felt pretty good to read Mayor Annise Parker’s statement in support of renewed negotiations between Houston Janitors and the companies which have refused to give them a much needed raise.

“I am calling on the contracting companies to go back to the negotiating table.  Their unwillingness to talk has left the union with no other choice but civil disobedience.  That is not good for the City of Houston or our economy and it is not how we do business in Houston.  We work hard, we work together and we treat each other fairly.  The union has made good-faith offers.  Now it’s time for the janitorial contractors to sit back down at the table to work out an agreement that is fair and just.”

After the Mayor’s appearance on the Colbert show this week, under the bit of excitement of her selling Houston and its stronger-than-most-other-cities-economy, I still felt that Houston could do much better in so many ways. The Mayor’s support for renewed negotiations gave that feeling a bit of a boost.

The Houston Janitors responded favorably despite the fact that it was Houston PD who arrested fifteen (15) activists who engaged in civil disobedience in support of the Janitors.

Learn more about the Houston Janitors by watching this video, and then give them your support.


Inbox: Janitors Fired for Defending Their Rights

From Service Employees International Union:

Janitors across Houston have been without a contract for more than a week and they have now been forced to call strikes in multiple buildings due to employer harassment and intimidation. They’re doing what they have to in order to protect their families, and they’re standing up for fair wages for all Houston workers.

But now, eleven janitors who work for New York based cleaning contractor Pritchard were notified today that they would not be allowed to return to work—in apparent violation of federal law. The janitors work at 363 North Belt.

Janitors need your support now more than ever. Can you take a minute to send an email to the owner of 363 North Belt urging them to tell Pritchard to hire back the janitors who were illegally fired?

Houston is facing a crisis. Over half a million Houstonians are paid less than $10 an hour, meaning that even if they work full-time, they take home less than $1600 a month – and as a result, one in four children in Houston now live in poverty.

Janitors want to change the tide for ordinary people in this city. And no one should be fired for exercising their right to organize and stand up for fair benefits.  Will you stand with them?

Click here to send an email in support of the North Belt janitors.

Are you ready to stand with janitors in the fight for good jobs and a fair economy? Join us tomorrow:

Tuesday, June 12th


Tranquility Park, Houston TX

Thank you,

Houston Janitors

CWA, Good Jobs Great Houston Protest Verizon

That’s right. Yesterday was a day of action for the Communications Workers of America Local 6222 and associated activists as dozens ascended on the Verizon Store located at San Felipe and Post Oak in the Uptown area.

Recently, Verizon announced that it would be shuttering call centers, thus, forcing upwards of 3,000 out of jobs in three states, including Texas. CWA, Good Jobs Great Houston, among others, responded with this action in a matter of days. Although Verizon blames the shuttering on “automation,” those associated with the action wanted to send a broader message to other companies thinking of doing similar things, or worse, outsourcing similar jobs.

In fact, that’s where HB 3596 comes in. HB 3596 is the US Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which would force outsourcing companies to disclose the whereabouts of their call center agents, make the ineligible for government grants, among other things. The bill has 45 or so sponsors, including Congressman Elijah Cummings (D) Maryland. CWA and associates were calling for support for HB 3596, too.

I saw various Unions represented at the action, and even Richard Shaw was there reppin’ the AFL-CIO. It was great to see one Teamster from San Diego, CA, too.  And at least one campaign for Congress was out there, too. There’s no doubt that more candidates need to be there or represented at these actions if we are to move bills like HB 3596 forward.

The Campaign Against Wage Theft in Houston

There’s a story in today’s Chron about several workers walking out of Ruggles in Montrose for what is described as lack of pay. Specifically, it is about workers who work for tips getting shortchanged. The owner of Ruggles says he’s working on it, but is also embroiled in other legal issues. Still, legal issues aren’t much of an excuse to not pay some folks.

Again, this is just one example of an ongoing crisis called wage theft. Here in Houston, there is now a movement asking Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council to take a stand against the practice:

It is time to take action now considering that: Wage theft disproportionately impacts those who already live in poverty ; Workers who aren’t paid are forced to fall back on public safety nets and government assistance in order to keep their families economically afloat; Wage theft is unfair competition since employers paying prevailing wages cannot successfully compete with businesses that reduce their costs by committing wage theft. We believe that you can take action to level the playing field for responsible businesses and bring economic justice to thousands of hard-working Houstonians. We urge you to work together to make Houston a Zero Tolerance city for wage theft.

While the Mayor and other politicians present a positive picture for corporations and small business, I think it would be a good idea to combine that with a pro-worker environment by taking a stand against wage theft.

The campaign is a coalition of organizations which represents the interests of ordinary folks–people who work for a living, provide for their families, and keep the economy running. Unfortunately, it is this very group of people that is easily targeted for wage theft by those companies who are more interested in profit than a good product.

The Coalition is asking the Mayor and City Council to draft a Wage Theft Ordinance that “expedites the process to resolve wage theft claims, includes a viable enforcement mechanism, and aims to prevent future wage theft cases.” And through a strong process, a message is sent that Houston will not tolerate such practices.

If you are part of an organization that represents community interests, become a part of the coalition. If you’re a concerned member of the community, sign the petition and even give a little.

Occupy Wall Street by Lalo Alcaraz

Nationally syndicated cartoonist and activist Lalo Alcaraz just posted his latest creation. He sure is a wizard with the symbolism, huh? Please share.

Theatrical Trailer: The Harvest/La Cosecha

The Harvest is a film about the children who work in agricultural fields here in America. With Texan Eva Longoria as executive producer, this film is sure to be heart-wrenching for those of us who experienced migrant farm work growing up, and a reality-check for those who have avoided the reality of knowing from where exactly the food on their table comes.

Every year there are more than 400,000 American children who are torn away from their friends, schools and homes to pick the food we all eat.  Zulema, Perla and Victor labor as migrant farm workers, sacrificing their own childhoods to help their families survive.  THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA profiles these three as they journey from the scorching heat of Texas’ onion fields to the winter snows of the Michigan apple orchards and back south to the humidity of Florida’s tomato fields to follow the harvest.

From the Producers of the Academy-Award® Nominated film, WAR/DANCE and Executive Producer Eva Longoria, this award-winning documentary provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of these children who struggle to dream while working 12 – 14 hours a day, 7 days a week to feed America.

Learn more about this award-winning film at Here’s a two-minute trailer.

Theft of Service Bill Passes TX Senate

From the desk of Texas Senator Jose Rodriguez  comes word that SB 1024 which would protect workers from employers who would otherwise skip out on paying them for their work, passed the Senate unanimously.

AUSTIN — Yesterday, State Senator José Rodríguez’s Senate Bill (SB) 1024 passed the Texas State Senate with a unanimous vote of 31-0.  When signed into law, the measure will clarify existing law in order to reduce the number of workers who are not paid wages promised by an employer.

Annually, the Worker’s Defense Project receives complaints from workers accounting for nearly $7 million in unpaid wages.

“This bill will strengthen current law to make sure that those who do the work, get paid what they were promised,” said State Senator Rodríguez. “Although most employers follow the law, for those who think it’s acceptable to only pay partial wages, we must make sure the law is clear and that they are held responsible.”

In certain industries, such as construction, one in every five workers experiences wage theft.  Day laborers in particular are significantly affected by this issue, with 50 percent having experienced wage theft.  The impact of this theft is widespread and has caused many Texans to be unable to meet their families’ basic needs.

SB 1024 adds a section to the Texas Penal Code, which maintains that a person commits theft of service if, with intent to avoid payment, that person fails to make full payment after receiving notice demanding payment if the compensation was to be paid periodically. is a supporter of the Texas Workers’ Defense Project and their lobbying efforts.

Starving for Good Jobs Food Drive

Courtesy ~

After the City of Houston redistricting hearings, make your way down to 1001 McKinney to help the janitors who were fired from their jobs by the management company of that building–Cameron Management. Here’s more from SEIU Local 1:

Dear Friend,

It’s been over a week since most of the janitors who cleaned this building, 1001 McKinney, lost their good jobs. For the nine families affected, it’s been an anxious nine days of struggle as they face life without the fair wages and access to affordable health care those good jobs used to provide.

On Wednesday, April 13 stand together with Houston’s working families by donating non-perishable food items to the “Starving for Good Jobs” food drive in benefit of the fired 1001 McKinney janitors and their families.

The food drive will take place in front of 1001 McKinney from 12-1PM on Wednesday.

Now more than ever, our city needs employers who are committed to creating and protecting good jobs—not cutting wages and benefits to pad corporate profits. While companies like Cameron Management and PJS turn their backs on working people, we must step up to protect Houston’s chance for a better future.

Five years ago, responsible business owners joined Houston janitors in creating good jobs and raising standards in the cleaning industry. Together with their employees, these companies created a path out of poverty for thousands of janitors and their families—including access to affordable health care. But Cameron Management—the company that owns 1001 McKinney Place—has rolled back that progress by hiring PJS, a cleaning contractor that pays janitors poverty wages and denies them a voice on the job.

Please contact Paloma Martinez at if you plan to donate or for more information.