Miami, FL – Workers who toil in downtown Miami, including office cleaners at Wells Fargo and Chase Bank office buildings, marched today through downtown Miami to demand better pay and benefits. Union and community leaders also joined the protest, including members of SEIU Locals 1991 and 1199, Florida New Majority, Jobs with Justice, One Miami and Occupy Miami.
“Downtown Miami workers should be able to put food on the table and take their children to the doctor without having to rely on taxpayer-funded assistance, said Eric Brakken, 32BJ SEIU Director in Florida. “Miami should not allow, and the public cannot afford to have workers who are living in poverty working in the offices of multibillion dollar companies.”
For example, office cleaners in Miami earn $1.50 per hour less than the median for building cleaners in the U.S., and as much as $4 less than building cleaners in other large metropolitan areas with a cost of living similar to Miami. That difference adds up. Over the course of a year, a cleaner in Miami is paid $3,000 less than the typical janitor in the U.S. and as much as $8,000 less than office cleaners in other large metropolitan areas. Office clerks are also underpaid. They have a median wage of $11.22, $1.57 below the US median of $12.79, and as much as $9,297 dollars less than in similar metro areas.
“Employers shirking their duty to pay a fair wage and benefits are ultimately passing the costs on to taxpayers,” said State Rep. Luis Garcia. “Many of these working families are able to get by only through the help of government assistance in the form of healthcare or other basic need programs and services.”
Office workers in downtown Miami maintain the offices of huge financial corporations such as Wells Fargo, which just this week reported a more than 20 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit.
“I’ve worked for this company for 3 years. I have 2 kids and I’m a single mother. My kids depend on my work but we don’t make much, I cannot make ends meet, I don’t have healthcare and my children don’t qualify for aid. I need help.” said Deyanira Velasquez, a cleaner employed by Jantrex at a downtown building where Wells Fargo has offices and who earns $8.50 an hour and is raising two daughters.
Workers in the cities of Hialeah and Miami earn less than in any of the nation’s 100 other large cities. Most low-wage workers in Miami are employed in service industries.
With more than 120,000 members in eight states, including South Florida, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.