Don’t underestimate us!


Hopefully you as the SEIU Nurse Alliance membership, are aware of the extraordinary effort that the most vulnerable workers in our community, namely, the night-shift men and women on the property maintenance (Janitorial) staffs throughout the state took a bold stand against workplace harassment and abuse at the hands of unscrupulous supervisors and managers. Our sisters and brothers in SEIU’s USWW locals bravely followed through on their promise of a 5-Day-Fast at the State Capital.

It would be reasonable to expect that visits from State Insurance Commissioner and Candidate for Attorney General, D Jones, and the signing of AB1978 would have satisfied the publicity goals of these fasting janitors. Yet while this high-profile, high-risk demonstration of resolve was successful in giving voice to a vulnerable population, it also transcended the original meaning of the protest – namely, to show the Governor, and the people of California, the spirit of Ya Basa!, beyond the current and emerging law of the land. These demonstrators, even though AB1978 was signed into law on day 3 of the fast, persisted as planned for the full 5-days. This demonstration of resolve, signified to all that changes in the law, while necessary, are incomplete. It’s the change in consciousness that were after.

Nurses from SEIU Nurse Alliance of California collaborated to provide medical support and spirited encouragement to the fasting janitors. “This is what community is about, we help each other in times of need. Those of us who were unable to participate in the fasting were able, in our own way to show support for this cause by sharing our stories, listening to their personal testimony about their xperiences of surviving various forms of abuse, harassment, or attack” said Ingela Dahlgren, Director of SEIU Nurse Alliance of California and fellow surviving rape victim. “It was a very emotional experience for me because in supporting the needs of these incredible women I relived the memory of my own survival story.” She continued.

Members are encouraged to closely watch this issue evolve going forward. Governor Brown’s decision to enact AB1978 as law is an important start, but by no means an end to the struggle for workplace safety for night-shift janitors. Here are some important links to follow:

USWW’s Facebook Page

Press Release Covering The 5-Day Fast in Sacramento

Blog Post detailing Justice for Janitors campaign

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