Houston janitors, with help from Beto O'Rourke, fight for an increase in hourly pay

Chaz Miller Image
Thursday, May 19, 2022
Houston janitors fight for an increase in hourly pay
A group of janitors in the City of Houston rallied downtown Wednesday in hopes of increasing their hourly wage to $15.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A group of janitors in the city of Houston rallied downtown Wednesday in hopes of increasing their hourly wage to $15.

The janitors, who are part of the Texas chapter of the Service Employees International Union, say they've been underpaid for too long.

"Many of them feel like, economically, they need to do much better," said Elsa Caballero, who is the local president of SEIU. "We're not quite where we need to be."

Caballero says more than 2,600 individuals would benefit from those higher wages.

In addition to Wednesday's rally at Tranquility Park, members of the union started voting on whether they'll strike, should a raise in wages not come by the end of their current agreement on May 31.

The results of that vote is expected to come on Friday.

"They're (starting) that tough decision (Wednesday)," Caballero said.

Additionally, Beto O'Rourke, the state's Democratic candidate for governor, attended the rally to show his support for the janitors and their union.

He also met with one of the members at her home earlier in the afternoon.

"I want to make sure we're standing with Texans who are working some of the most important frontline jobs in the state," said O'Rourke. "They need to be paid a living wage."

We reached out to the campaign of Gov. Greg Abbott, who has long maintained that raising the overall minimum wage in Texas would hurt the state's economy by creating a loss of jobs.

"Beto O'Rourke seems to want nothing more than to drive Texas' booming economy into a ditch," a spokesperson with Abbott's campaign said in a statement.

O'Rourke maintains that a raise in the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25-an-hour in Texas, would benefit everyone.

"That ensures that somebody working full time doesn't have to work a second or a third job," O'Rourke said. "They can provide for themselves, take care of their kids, and contribute back to their community."

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