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Assembly Labor Committee passes AB 2364 (Luz Rivas) to protect janitors’ aging bodies from abusive workloads

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History-making Justice for Janitors movement builds new momentum in fight for immigrant worker justice

Sacramento-area janitors vote resoundingly to authorize strike 

Sacramento, CA - California’s Justice for Janitors movement today celebrated growing momentum on two fronts in immigrant workers’ fight for safety and dignity. Sacramento-area janitors resoundingly voted to authorize a strike, with hundreds holding up red strike cards in a public vote on the State Capitol grounds. Later, the Assembly Labor Committee overwhelmingly passed AB 2364, Asm Luz Rivas’ first-in-the-nation bill that would limit workloads in the janitorial industry and strengthen protections against sexual violence faced by the largely female workforce as they labor alone in empty buildings at night. 

"I am currently on disability,” said Hilda Cristina Mosquera, a janitor in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley. “There was too much work; the fingers of my right hand and left hand got stuck. The pain was very intense. I took therapies, and they gave me injections to unlock my fingers. I had to have surgery on my left hand, then on my right hand. Although there are several people with these problems, the company has not made the decision to add more people, reduce the area, or lower the workload."

Sacramento janitors were the first to vote on authorizing a statewide strike; votes will take place in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Jose, and San Diego on May 18. Approximately 25,000 janitors statewide could go out on strike if workers’ demands for a fair contract are not met.

Before the strike vote, two hundred janitors who are members of SEIU United Service Workers West rallied at the State Capitol in support of Asm. Luz Rivas’ AB 2364, sharing stories of the physical abuse and sexual violence they experienced at the hands of a low-road, subcontracted janitorial industry. On the Capitol lawn and in the Assembly hearing on the bill, workers pressed lawmakers to pass the “End Janitor Exploitation and Abuse ,” which would establish a reasonable production rate for janitors and prohibit employers from forcing workers to shoulder more dangerous workloads. 

Assemblywoman Luz Rivas said, “The unfortunate and unacceptable truth is that the frequent injury, violence, and blistering disrespect forced on janitors exists only because these hard-working women are immigrants. I’m proud to author AB 2364 because our tías, abuelas, and hermanas deserve better than a life of chronic pain.”

A recent survey by the California Department of Industrial Relations highlighted the brutal conditions that janitors face on the job, including the fact that roughly one-third of janitors in California were injured on the job last year. Fifty six percent of janitors reported suffering from severe chronic pain. The survey also found one-third of janitors say they may not report injuries out of fear of retaliation.

This next wave in the Justice for Janitors movement comes as older workers in low-wage jobs are an increasing share of our workforce and data show significant disparities in the physical demands of jobs done by older Black and Brown workers.

At the Capitol today, janitors rallied around the immigrant women workers who are leading the fight for safe workloads, after having championed legislation to end “Rape on the Night Shift.” Bravely sharing their stories, janitors secured groundbreaking legsilation that requires sexual violence prevention training across the industry and supports peer counselors or “promatoras” in educating their co-workers about their right to be safe at work.

“The Justice for Janitors movement has always been built on the courage of workers who refuse to be exploited and abused because of their gender, race and immigration status,” said SEIU - USWW and SEIU California President David Huerta. “At a time when one presidential candidate and a radicalized, racist right-wing have singled immigrants out for hate, the women and men leading this fight exemplify America’s true values of justice and dignity for all.”


A generation ago, a three-week strike by Los Angeles janitors ignited the Justice for Janitors movement and succeeded in securing a landmark contract lifting the wage floor across the industry. Since those marches in Century City in the early 1990s, immigrant women have been fighting to protect their bodies from a brutal industry.

In 2015, janitors led a broad movement of immigrant workers to pass the nation’s strongest wage theft protections.

Later, as janitors began to share their traumatic experiences of sexual abuse in the industry, captured in the Frontline Documentary Rape on The Night Shift, Justice for Janitors launched the “¡Ya Basta!” campaign that led to transformative, first-in-the-nation legislation to combat sexual assault (AB 1978 and AB 2079) with new training requirements and peer-to-peer education.

Now, janitors are fighting the physically abusive workloads that are ravaging their bodies; many workers in this industry must work long past retirement age. As California and the nation face an aging workforce, immigrant women workers are taking the lead to demand safe workloads. 

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SEIU-United Service Workers West represents more than 45,000 janitors, security officers, airport service workers, and other property service workers across California.