Jun 19 2015

Justice for Janitors, 25 Years Later

Feature Stories | Published 19 Jun 2015, 10:15 am | Comments Off on Justice for Janitors, 25 Years Later -

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A report from Sonali Kolhatkar, Host and Executive Producer of Uprising.

Twenty five years ago a historic labor struggle began in Los Angeles that took on international significance. Janitors from around Southern California organized for their right in a campaign simply called Justice for Janitors. While the idea for the movement came to LA from Denver, it was in LA that a major strike in April 1990 took place lasting several weeks during which thousands of janitors marched on the streets until they won a significant union contract.

On June 15, 1990, officers of the Los Angeles Police Department attacked peaceful marchers in Century City, arresting 60 people and sending dozens to the hospital. Two pregnant women among those attacked, miscarried. Footage of that violence captured the nation and spurred sympathy for the movement. Since then, the campaign grew and today under the leadership of SEIU, has expanded to dozens of cities and includes hundreds of thousands of janitors. The origins of the Justice for Janitors campaign was memorialized in a 2000 film called Bread and Roses, starring Adrien Brody.

Around the country dozens of rallies were held yesterday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Justice for Janitors campaign, including one in Century City on the very street corner where the police violence against peaceful striking janitors took place. The Uprising crew was there on the corner of Olypmic and Roxbury, and I spoke with several people who have been part of the campaign for years. We begin by hearing from Pastor William Smart, President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference speaking at the podium, referring to yesterday’s massacre in South Carolina.

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