« What Union Members Understand | Main | What Evil Lurks In The Hearts Of Men? »

November 20, 2006

The Houston Janitors Win!

It was weird enough when the Democrats took Congress, but now you're telling me the Houston Janitors have...won?

What a difference a day makes! We have reached a tentative agreement for a 3 year contract for janitors.

Wages: $1.15 increase the first year, $1.00 the second year, and $.50 the third year.

Health Care: The third year is when single payer health insurance will kick in and janitors will pay $20 per month into that plan. It is a plan designed and managed by SEIU and we are hoping to get all of our members nationwide on this plan.

Vacation: Two weeks paid vacation per year

Holidays: 6 paid Holidays

Hours: 1st year everyone must work a minimum of 4 hours a day, 2nd year everyone must work a minimum of 5 hours per day, 3rd year everyone must work
a minimum of 6 hours per day.

Protection: We have a grievance procedure in place. We have protection for all of the striking workers to get their jobs back with no discipline, We have a disciplinary proceedure in place so that no one can be illegally fired for no reason any more.

Amazing. This is how it should be. As I wrote the other day, the American Dream isn't given, it's won. And these workers just won themselves the American Dream. God bless 'em.

November 20, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

And these workers just won themselves the American Dream.

Well, they got themselves closer to it at least. Good for them.

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 20, 2006 4:59:11 PM

This is actually much more progress than I expected from a first contract. Obviously, it could be better in terms of wages and especially benefits, but this is actually pretty substantial, particularly with regards to hours.

I wouldn't say this too often, but Good Work, SEIU.

(I bet the PR over the police's use of unnecessary force put them over the top.)

Posted by: stuck working | Nov 20, 2006 5:02:46 PM

Maybe employers were worried that images of police horses trampling strikers demonstrating for a bare minimum living would reflect badly on their own petty and greedy behavior, and the the actual cost of paying them more would be less than the potential cost of the bad publicity.

Posted by: RWB | Nov 20, 2006 5:03:04 PM

Amen, Ezra.

Posted by: ChristianPinko | Nov 20, 2006 5:05:59 PM

Horse-trampling is such an old-timey union-busting tactic. Somewhere, a top-hatted Thomas Nast charicature is quivering his red jowls with fury...wonderful.

Posted by: Adrian | Nov 20, 2006 5:48:16 PM

"the American Dream isn't given, it's won"

Indeed.

Posted by: jmack | Nov 20, 2006 5:56:52 PM

Going from $20/day to ~$30/day, plus health insurance is pretty good. There are a lot of janitors, who are paid a great deal more, of course, but when health benefits kick in, the overhead cost of employment will force the employers into replacing a part-time model with a more conventional full-time plus overtime model, which will result in those retained earning a good deal more than at present.

It would be very interesting to see how many of the strikers are still in the transformed workplace four years from now.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder | Nov 20, 2006 6:22:30 PM

I found John Edwards' comments on the issue -- he's liveblogging at Daily Kos -- quite interesting.

"I've been personally involved in the Justice for Janitors campaign, not only in Houston but nationally. I've personally met with the people, including the workers who are organizing the campaign in Houston, and last week I spoke with the Mayor of Houston about this issue. I'm hopeful that progress can be made because the janitors' cause is absolutely just."

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 20, 2006 6:38:27 PM

Where's Fred?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 20, 2006 6:41:12 PM

Yeah, after they got trampled by the houston police on horseback....

And put in jail....

And had the ignominy of spending time in jail with hookers and have their bails initially set at a million dollars....

They got a $2.65 raise over three years.

Viva the dream.

Posted by: Kelly | Nov 20, 2006 6:56:52 PM

Woo-hoo! Congrats houston janitors.

Posted by: Sandals | Nov 20, 2006 7:33:28 PM

Umm are they out of jail. Have charges against them been dropped? I'm not even asking if the police or guards are being charged with anything, cause I once LIVED in Houston.

Posted by: Gar Lipow | Nov 20, 2006 7:35:30 PM

Whew-hew!!!

Posted by: DuWayne | Nov 20, 2006 7:48:20 PM

But I should have added Yippee for the Janitors. It is one hell of a victory regardless. I just want to know what is going to happen regarding the brutal police assault?

Posted by: Gar Lipow | Nov 20, 2006 9:12:05 PM

I suspect some little part of the victory (over wages, not health care) is due to the thought: if the Democrats are going to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 anyways, why the hell not?

Posted by: hilzoy | Nov 21, 2006 2:46:26 AM

'Hours: 1st year everyone must work a minimum of 4 hours a day, 2nd year everyone must work a minimum of 5 hours per day, 3rd year everyone must work
a minimum of 6 hours per day. '

Excellent, so those who actually want to work part time can no longer do so? That's an advance in human liberty isn't it?

Further: if it currently takes x people to do the required work, and those who retain employment in three years time will be doing 150% of the current hours, then looks like one third of those janitors are going to lose their jobs.

A stirring victory don't you think?

Posted by: failingeconomist | Nov 21, 2006 7:18:12 AM

Further: if it currently takes x people to do the required work, and those who retain employment in three years time will be doing 150% of the current hours, then looks like one third of those janitors are going to lose their jobs.

That is the miscalculation, the unintentional side effects of managing the labor market through edict. It's the part no one wishes to address.


Think how many more jobs there would be in the auto industry if each union member were not paid 70K+ for assembling a windshield.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 21, 2006 8:14:15 AM

Think how many more jobs there would be in the auto industry if each union member were not paid 70K+ for assembling a windshield.

Probably a lot fewer, since most of the people building cars wouldn't be able to buy them.

Posted by: Seitz | Nov 21, 2006 9:51:21 AM

I wonder if some of our commenters have to do their computer work standing up because their asses hurt from all the arguments and statistics they pull out of them.

Think how many more jobs there would be in the auto industry if each union member were not paid 70K+ for assembling a windshield.

Well, there wouldn't be any more jobs in the auto industry, because the number of jobs is dependent, as Seitz so helpfully pointed out, upon the number of cars that are sold, and therefore the number of cars that need to be made.

And remember, for every auto plant that Detroit sends to Mexico, there's a Japanese or Korean auto plant that opens up in the USA touting its union workforce.

Excellent, so those who actually want to work part time can no longer do so? That's an advance in human liberty isn't it?

Obviously these jobs weren't really set up to be part-time; they were kept that way artficially so that the management wouldn't have to pay any benefits. Those that want to work part-time - which means those that are better off financially than the rest - can go into an industry that actually needs part-time workers. There are plenty of those.

Also, people who want to work part-time are pretty mobile in the first place. Few of them would agitate for something like this, and few of them would care if their job disappeared in 3 years. By that time, most if not all of the part-timers would have moved on anyway. Your false concern is touching, but misplaced.

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 21, 2006 10:08:18 AM

I wouldn't go that far, Ezra. Though this is undoubtedly good news, they will still be in a low-wage, low-status profession. We'll see if one of their kids runs for President and the Republicans embark on a campaign of racist immigrant panic.

Posted by: Marshall | Nov 21, 2006 10:23:55 AM

Well, there wouldn't be any more jobs in the auto industry, because the number of jobs is dependent, as Seitz so helpfully pointed out, upon the number of cars that are sold, and therefore the number of cars that need to be made.

The number sold is dependent upon the price and with half the labor cost, I can guantee you their sales will go throught the roof!!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 21, 2006 1:07:43 PM

The number sold is dependent upon the price and with half the labor cost, I can guantee you their sales will go throught the roof!!

Wow. Fred has sekrit inside knowledge on the elasticity of demand for big-ticket items like cars. He knows that a 50% decrease in labor cost will automatically result in a radical drop in prices and a radical upswing in sales. Apparently, everyone will want more cars than the one, two, or three they have, or they'll just throw away their current car. Never mind that a whole lot of people will have less money, less job security, less health care and will be able to buy fewer cars and other things, or that cars are persistent items, so that disposing of your current car means someone gets a used car and that used car might (and often does) displace a new car sale. And of course, there's the whole question of the negative externalities of automobiles -- more cars does not necessarily equal a better economy.

Fred really never did get past Econ 0.5. Not even to Econ 101.

Posted by: paperwight | Nov 21, 2006 3:20:59 PM

Apparently, everyone will want more cars than the one, two, or three they have...

No, everyone will want the less expensive cars made in America without the Union premium built into the price instead of the foreign cars who are more competitive because they don't have to pay $70,000.00 plus a year to fit a doorhandle on.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 21, 2006 5:30:26 PM

Fred can't read. But, we knew that.

Posted by: Sandals | Nov 21, 2006 8:43:00 PM

Fred can't read. But, we knew that.

Hehehehe....

Say "Hi" to your Mom for me.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 21, 2006 8:48:28 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.