Faith leaders and janitors call for good jobs for working Houston families

During ceremonial Blessing of the Brooms, community honors working mother and fathers, calls for fair wages for Houston families

More than 300 faith leaders, community members, and janitors – who clean the offices of some of the most powerful corporations in the world, including Chevron and AIG – gathered today to hold a Blessing of the Brooms.

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As part of the event, faith leaders re-affirmed their support of local janitors’ efforts to create an economy that works for all, including jobs that pay fair wages and provide access to paid sick days.

“Working mothers and fathers should be paid a fair wage that allows Houston families to afford a decent way of living,” said Joseph Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “This is more than a moral issue. A fair wage means each member of our community is properly recognized and respected for their contribution to our great city.”

Houston’s economy is more resilient and diverse now than ever, with predictions of 25% growth by 2020, yet corporations pays its janitors some of the lowest wages in the country. And wages are falling. Corporations are cutting Houston janitors’ hours and withholding vital healthcare. Because of this imbalance, today Houston has the 10th-highest rate of income inequality among major metropolitan areas, falling behind Atlanta and Detroit.

“I used to work 30 hours a week, and received healthcare to help keep my family safe,” said Edith Fernandez, a janitor in Downtown Houston. “Now – even though Houston profits are rising – my hours and healthcare keep being cut. I am a good worker, and I want to be able to provide for my family and community.”

Janitors, working families, and the faith community are standing together to revitalize Houston. Raising wages for 3,200 janitors would create a boom for local economies, while only representing a fraction of the profits of Houston’s five largest office owners.

“We have allowed certain forms of work to be undervalued for too long,” said Samuel Dunning, Director of the Office of Justice and Peace, Archdiocese of Galveston Houston. “Although janitorial work is critical to all of us, these mothers and fathers struggle daily just to cover the basics. Every person who contributes to our community must be compensated fairly.”

Houston janitors and community members join 125,000 janitors across the country to raise America with good jobs. By standing together, already more than 70,000 janitors and their families have won raises and job improvements.

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