18 janitors, formerly employed by the new Federal Building remain on the picket line, terminated for no cause and demanding their right to justice.
"My main concern is that these companies take advantage of the anti-immigration hysteria in the country to discourage worker activity. We really have to raise our voice to support workers brave enough tom stand up," said Eric Quesada as we watched proud members SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 87 protesting unfair layoffs in front of the state of the art Federal Building located at 90 Seventh Street.
The story of how these hard working janitors lost their jobs has to go down in recent labor history as one of the meanest and shadiest events. The janitors had been working for American Building Services (ABS) a janitorial service with contracts to clean other federal buildings in San Francisco when ABS was notified on September 27, 2007 that they were losing the contract effective October1,2007 and the current employees were to be laid off on September28, 2007. The company taking over janitorial services was the anti-union Exemplar located somewhere in San Diego. The reason the federal building went with the mysterious Exemplar was according to Andrew Solis (SEIU Local 87) because of their low bid.
Since October 1st, these stalwart and loyal workers have been protesting in front of the futuristic federal building to make Exemplar come clean and play fair.
"The Federal Building needs to come clean about about what’s going on," Tiny, co-founder and editor of POOR Magazine stated powerfully to the crowd, "There is no clear reason why the Federal Government took your jobs away."
What has transpired is an obvious case of the crooked corporation being rewarded and the hardworking laborer being punished. Exemplar violated San Francisco city law requiring new companies to rehire workers from the former contract. The law known as the displaced worker Protection Act, requires workers from the former contract to be re-hired for a minimum of 90 days. If that wasn't enough shady business practices Exemplar has no Bay Area business license and under their new contract the eight non-union janitors are paid one dollar less per hour than the eighteen laid off union workers were.
Tony Medina (SEIU 1021 Tenderloin Housing Clinic) summed up this scrooge like behavior, saying "This is totally unfair. This is the federal governments way of saying thank you...by putting you out on the picket line."
While Exemplar and GPS are playing Grinch to these 18 workers and their families during this holiday season, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced a resolution calling on Exemplar Enterprises to reinstate the union janitors and urged Congresswoman and Speaker of the house of Representative Nancy Pelosi to call upon GPS and Exemplar to reinstate the janitors.
Supervisors Daly, Ammiano, Mirkarimi and Sandoval names were placed on the resolution. Not only did local 87 receive love from the board of supervisors. A constant stream of cars passed by the demonstration honking horns in support of the picketers who continued chanting, "No Union...NO Peace...No Respect...No Peace...No Justice...No Peace" as they marched in a tight circle.
Voicing support for the workers who want to remain union was Jaron from POWER (People Organized to win Employment Rights ) who reminded everyone "Do the workers run this city? We want justice NOW. We are going to take these jobs back now."
Exemplar they may not be spreading holiday cheer but they are spreading serious discontent and dissatisfaction. According to Marlon Crump of POOR Magazine, "Misery afflicts both the union and non-union workers. The new Exemplar employees are constantly complaining that they are overworked and being assigned improper custodial tasks. Exemplar itself has turned to recruiting people in the vicinity including workers from the Best Western Hotel on Seventh Street out of sheer desperation."
It's odd to hear about Exemplar difficulty in attracting qualified workers. The laid off janitors are the ones who cleaned the building for the grand opening that was attended by political big shots like Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. "Local 87 are the originals that opened up this building before Exemplar," said Solis to our approval.
Despite intimidation from ICE agents who came to a legal peaceful demonstration with guns pulled, Local 87 has remained focused on their goal of remaining union and getting their jobs back. Their indomitable spirit inspired Tony Robles(San Francisco Human Rights Commission) to say, "We appreciate the work you are doing now on the picket line. And the work you will continue to do."
As the protest waned down Homeland Security agents gathered together in a small group to observe and distort.. Eric Quesada remarked, "These are dark times we are living in. But these workers are the light in these dark times."
Please be sure to raise your voice in support of these brave workers strong enough to stand up.
HELP LOCAL 87 JANITORS!!
Join the picket line in front of the new Federal Building!!! (7th and Mission)
Flood the following offices with calls
At Exemplar; Daniela (Project Manager) 415.722.3365 Rudy (president) 619.985.9602
Lewis& Rocca (Attorneys) 702.949.8282
GSA Contracting Opportunities 415. 522.2700
Nancy Pelosi 415.556.4862