Jersey City—Elected officials stood with hundreds of security officers, janitors and other hardworking men and women as they commemorated Justice for Janitors Day—marking that historic day 26 years ago when a when a group of janitors bravely faced baton wielding L.A. police in order to fight for their rights.
“I am proud to stand on the shoulders of those early trailblazers who risked their lives to fight for workers’ rights and a better life,” said Kathy Osorto, a cleaner and resident of Jersey City. “Today on Justice for Janitors Day, we honor their commitment and legacy by standing together and continuing their fight to ensure all workers receive justice, a family sustaining wage and respect.”
The massive rally was held on the steps of Jersey City Hall—a fitting place because Jersey City was the first municipality in New Jersey to enact several progressive policies that benefit workers and their families including paid sick leave and a $15 minimum wage for municipal workers.
“These hardworking men and women keep our buildings clean and safe, make sure our children are fed and well cared for at school, and keep our transit facilities moving and thriving,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “These workers are the ones often doing the thankless jobs that we all rely on and it’s important that we continue to not only thank them, but also provide an opportunity for them to have a pathway to stronger paying jobs and a stronger future.”
The rally comes as Jersey City Council considers two bills that will help create more full-time stable jobs; the Better Jobs Act and Displaced Worker Protection. Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro says he’s proud to be a sponsor of the legislation because they will help uplift workers and their families.
“We have to keep working to end the tale of two cities in Jersey City, and ensure that prosperity is shared by all,” said Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro. “Too many low-wage workers are struggling and falling behind, and we need to respond to their cries with the same urgency. I’m proud to introduce the Better Jobs Act and the Displaced Worker Protection, which will give hard-working men and women access to full-time, family-sustaining, and stable jobs.”
“The benefits of full-timing workers are many, from less turnover and absenteeism, to a higher level or commitment and willingness to put in extra effort,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU Vice President and NJ State Director. “We need to mandate full-time work because there will always be low-road employers who put cost-savings over productivity and worker moral.”
*About 32BJ: With 155,000 members in 11 states–including more than 11,000 in New Jersey–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.