May 17th Janitorial Contract Kickoff—SEIU6 Janitors Are Ready to Strike!

SEIU6 Janitorial Contract Kickoff
SEIU6 Janitorial Contract Kickoff

On May 17, SEIU6 janitors painted the streets of Seattle purple as they marched in hundreds alongside their fellow union members, families, and allies to signal their collective power to fight for a strong contract. The gathering was the largest turnout for SEIU6 to date, with over 500 people in attendance. The Contract Kickoff began at the Westin, where the union janitors overwhelmingly voted YES to authorize a strike if the demands for a better contract are not met. 

The bargaining team shared firsthand accounts of the bargaining proceedings and what was at stake in the upcoming contract for the 4,000 janitors and their families. Later, the members listened to messages from political allies Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Senator Karen Keiser, as well as an address from April Sims, Washington State Labor Council.

 The union members then proceeded to McGraw Park, where we heard some words from faith leader Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown and our very own Milixa Portillo, an SEIU6 member who shared her struggle to make ends meet as a janitor and immigrant. The marching band leader, Sofia Pineda, then kicked off the march with a drumming solo.

SEIU6 Janitors at McGraw Park
SEIU6 Janitors at McGraw Park
SEIU6 Janitors at Contract Kickoff Rally
Sofia Pinada Kicksoff Rally

At the key stops, the union members heard addresses from King County Council Member Teresa Mosqueda, King County Council Chair Dave Upthegrove, Senator Joe Nguyen, Senator Rebecca Saldaña and personal stories of SEIU6 janitors:

“If we don’t get wage increases, we may have to work two jobs to provide for our families. This will come at the cost of spending quality time with my family. This will come at the expense of our bodies. The janitorial job is already hard on the body, especially our joints and backs. That is why we need to protect our healthcare and benefits. So, we must do whatever it takes to ensure we win a strong contract, even if that means we have to strike.” Ngoc Nguyen, SEIU6 janitor. 

“As a retired janitor, I am living off the benefits we, as the union, fought hard for. So we must fight in this contract to protect our medical benefits no matter what it takes.” Fantanesh Kassie, Retired SEIU6 Janitor.

“As a refugee, you were dependent on an organization for everything, but now, with a livable wage, I can achieve independence for myself. However, this financial security is under attack. If we don’t win a strong contract with better wages that match the rising cost of living, the foundation I am trying to build for my family won’t stand. ” By Jawahir Hussein, SEIU6 Janitor.

We received press coverage from news outlets such as the Seattle Times and Komo News. Follow the links to read more about our demands in the upcoming contract.

Follow the link to see the full event album