As millions of essential workers in the cleaning and security sectors have been forced to confront the COVID-19 pandemic with limited access to protective equipment and precarious working conditions, UNI Global Union launched today the campaign #ProtectAllWorkers to demand protections on the job and to commemorate International Justice Day.
“On Justice Day we don’t just call essential workers heroes, we make sure we #ProtectAllWorkers by ensuring access to personal protective equipment, COVID-19 testing, decent pay and union representation,” said Eddy Stam, Head of UNI Property Services. “We stop COVID-19 by taking care of each other.”
In addition, cleaner and security workers from the five continents are raising their voices to reminder the world that the fight for justice in the workplace comes hand in hand with the struggle for racial dignity. As union members from across the world continue voicing their support for Black Lives Matter and the victims of racist violence everywhere, it’s worth noting the anti-racist origins of International Justice Day.
“In 2020, just like in 1990, our chant in response to poverty wages, police brutality and systemic racism is: Sí, se puede! Yes, we can. We will overcome, we’ll continue fighting for justice for all. The workers who sacrifice day in and day out with their labor should share in the wealth they create and enjoy a life with dignity and respect —in the workplace and on the streets,” said Christy Hoffman General Secretary of UNI Global Union.
On June 15, 1990, a peaceful Justice for Janitors march and protest in downtown Los Angeles’ turned into something more powerful. When workers linked arms to cross a street, police officers confronted these men and women, beating them with batons and injuring dozens of marchers.
This dramatic moment only strengthened the resolve of the janitors, galvanizing public support and spurring a movement that forced multinational companies to recognize the janitors’ right to have a union contract that provided workers a living raise with health insurance and guaranteed benefits.
As we celebrate this victory 30 years later, we are proud of the many victories won by cleaners, security workers and others who dedicated their lives to make service jobs better for all. We also want to redouble our commitment to fight for working people and communities of colour, who just like the L.A. janitors in 1990, continue to suffer the consequences of institutionalized racism in their workplaces and on the streets.