The janitors in Houston, Texas began a long strike in late October for a wage increase from $5.30 an hour to $8.50 an hour, more hours, and health benefits. There are about 5,300 janitors that are members of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) in Houston.
Houston’s Channel 2 reported that the strike ended on Monday, November 20th, at about 4pm when Houston Mayor Bill White and the union president of SEIU made the announcement. White was happy with the agreement, and stated, “This is a good day for Houston, Texas, and a good day for a lot of the people who work hard in our community. I applaud the contractors to bargaining in good faith over a long weekend.”
According to Democracy Now!, the deal will allow the new wage to be $7.50 over the next two years. The cleaning companies where the janitors are employed have agreed to offer longer hours, paid holidays, vacation time and health insurance. The SEIU feels this is a great win for the employees, who are mostly minorities and women.
The struggle is ongoing, says Mercedes Herrara, who told her story to many media outlets. For her, this increase wage means that she will be better able to support herself, and to receive health care. But, it also means that she is not invisible, that she is being recognized as a valuable member of society, with dignity and respect.