portland independent media center  
images audio video
feature article announcements portland metro

community building | economic justice | labor

Portland Janitors Vote to Strike--Rally on Thursday!

Janitors working in luxury high-rises of powerful downtown developer Melvin "Pete" Mark voted Sunday to authorize a strike in protest against cleaning company Servicemaster Swan Island, alleging intimidation, coercion and being forced to work "off-the-clock."

On the heels of an historic $22 million dollar legal settlement for janitors in California in which several corporations who outsource their cleaning were held liable for their contractor's rampant legal violations, downtown Portland janitors are taking steps to address their cleaning company's alleged lawbreaking, authorizing a strike against unfair labor practices. Many of the janitors coming forward to testify work in buildings owned by Melvin "Pete" Mark's company.

  • WHO: Justice for Janitors
  • WHAT: Rally for Justice
  • WHEN: Noon, Thursday, February 3rd
  • WHERE: Columbia Square - 111 SW Columbia St
"We are protesting the unfair, illegal tricks Servicemaster is trying to pull to stop us from blowing the whistle on poor working conditions," said Juana Guerrero, one of the striking janitors. "They think they can intimidate and harass us into keeping quiet about earning only about $26 dollars a day."

Servicemaster of Swan Island, the cleaning company employing the janitors, last week agreed to settle two pending charges with the federal National Labor Relations Board regarding allegedly illegal threats made to janitors. More charges are to be filed this week alleging instances of coercion and intimidation. Additionally, some surveyed Rose Garden janitors have also reported instances of having to show up to work and wait "off-the-clock," in apparent violation of Oregon state law and are weighing options to recoup back wages that Servicemaster may owe them.