Loading...

How You Can Help the Janitors — and Your City 

Comments

The economy may be roaring along these days, but even the Angelenos who’ve profited the most in recent years know something’s rotten in Los Angeles. L.A. simply does not resemble any major city that any native-born American over 30 grew up in. The American postwar miracle — the creation of the first middle-class majority in human history — seems to have sputtered and died here over the past decade. The middle has fallen out of the L.A. economy, and we have become instead the nation’s capital of low-wage work, not to mention medical uninsurance. One recent survey showed that 72 percent of the children in the L.A. Unified School District live in poverty. Seventy-two percent! More than any other U.S. city, Los Angeles is home to people who, as the president likes to say, work hard and play by the rules, but make poverty-level wages for their efforts.

All this poverty amidst all this opulence pricks at the conscience of this city, but for most Angelenos, we suspect, the problem seems as intractable as the smog. For that reason, the janitors who have gone on strike this week across the county are trying to lighten not only their own burden but ours as well. Their demand for a $3 hourly wage increase over the next three years — hiking their wage to a princely $9.80 — is both fair and affordable. We think the tenants in L.A.’s class-A office buildings can afford the penny-per-square foot increase in rent that this raise will impose over the next three years.

Just as important, however, the janitors are doing something that no one else in town has done in years: They have put forth an entirely plausible proposal for reducing poverty in L.A. They are pointing the way for the city’s vast Latino working class, whose best if not only shot at escaping poverty over the next 20 years is unionization. They are showing that, banded together, the people who clean the city’s toilets and mop its floors are a match for the people who own Century City and the skyscrapers downtown.

Related Stories

The Weekly wholeheartedly supports the janitors in their struggle for a living wage. We’d like to suggest some ways in which our readers can help the janitors, too. First, those of you who are tenants in the county’s Class-A office buildings — you know who you are — should tell your building’s management and owners that you support the janitors’ demands. Second, for all our readers, there are a number of food banks going up around town to help the janitors weather the strike. The Labor-Community Services Food and Emergency Program — a tax-deductible offshoot of the County Federation of Labor — has established two drop-off points for canned goods and other nonperishable foods: the Communications Workers local at 9155 Alabama Avenue, Suite 8, in Chatsworth, and the Communications Workers local at 5855 Venice Boulevard in L.A. The list of food banks will surely grow over the next week; we’ll list the new ones on our Web site — www.laweekly.com — and in next week’s paper.

But there’s no reason why the creation of food banks should be limited to the labor movement. The janitors’ strike is a struggle to make all L.A. a better place to live — a struggle in which all people of conscience should pitch in. To that end, the Weekly is creating its own food bank for the strikers. You can drop off your canned goods and other nonperishable foods at our offices in Hollywood (6715 Sunset Boulevard). Moreover, L.A.’s churches, synagogues and mosques may want to consider opening food banks of their own. (The Community Services Program, at 213-427-9044, has pledged to transport all contributions to the strikers’ food-distribution center in Maywood.)

Like Mark Twain’s weather, poverty in L.A. is much discussed and never remedied. Now, the janitors have stepped forward to do something about it. You can do something about it, too.

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.
  • La Brea Tar Pits "Pit 91" Re-Opening
    Starting June 28th, The Page Museum once again proudly unveils the museum's Observation Pit, which originally opened in 1952 but has spent most of the last half century closed. Now visitors can get an up-close look at Pit 91, which is currently under excavation. The La Brea Tar Pits, home of the Page Museum, is one of the world's most famous ice age fossil locations, known for range of fossils from saber-toothed cats and mammoths to microscopic plants, seeds and insects. The new "Excavator Tour" is free with museum admission if purchased online at tarpits.org . All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Scenes from the O.J. Simpson Circus
    In the months after O.J. Simpson's arrest for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in the summer of 1994, the drama inside the courthouse riveted the masses. But almost as much mayhem was happening right outside the building, as well as near Simpson's Brentwood home. Dissenters and supporters alike showed up to showcase art inspired by the case, sell merchandise, and either rally for, or against, the accused football star. Here is a gallery of the madness, captured by a photojournalist who saw it all. All photos by Ted Soqui.