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All People Matter

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Makes Strong Statement About The Right Of Working People To Engage In Civil Disobedience In The Fight For Fair Wages

Yesterday I wrote that on the blog that Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s police were reportedly ticketing people who were honking their horns in support of striking janitors. I also said that Mayor Parker was no place to be found in support of these janitors as they fight for a living wage.

I’m glad to report that Mayor Parker made a strong statement today backing the janitors.

Beyond that, the Mayor also made a broader assertion about the rights of all working people.

(Above–Mayor Parker)

Here is what she said—

“I am calling on the contracting companies to go back to the negotiating table.  Their unwillingness to talk has left the union with no other choice but civil disobedience.  That is not good for the City of Houston or our economy and it is not how we do business in Houston.  We work hard, we work together and we treat each other fairly.  The union has made good-faith offers.  Now it’s time for the janitorial contractors to sit back down at the table to work out an agreement that is fair and just.”

Here is the Houston Chronicle report on the Mayor’s comments on the rights of working people.

The great Houston blog Dos Centavos has posted about Mayor Parker’s hopeful and constructive views.  

In her statement the Mayor not only backed the janitors, she also said that working people have the right to civil disobedience when confronted with the refusal of an employer to offer fair wages.

I’ve criticized Mayor Parker many times in recent years for her frequent appeals to so-called fiscal conservatives.

So it only seems fair to relate to the blog reading public the statement the Mayor made today about the inherent freedoms of all working people.

Let’s hope that Houston can count on more and even stronger support from Mayor Parker in the never-ending battle for decent wages and fair treatment for the hardworking people of our great city.

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July 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s Police Reported To Be Ticketing People For Horn Honking In Support Of Striking Houston Janitors—Mayor Parker & Houston Council Democrats Can’t Be Looked To For Very Much That Is Hopeful Or Progressive

(Update 7/21-12–Mayor Parker has spoken out strongly  in favor of the strking janitors. Let’s hope this is the beginning of consistent support for working people in Houston from Mayor Parker.)

There are reports that Mayor Annise Parker’s police are writing tickets for illegal horn honking for people honking in support of striking Houston janitors.

This horn honking is taking place as people drive past protests by the janitors.

Above is one such ticket that was posted today on the Occupy Houston Facebook page.

From Occupy Houston—

“So, in the latest attempt to stifle political dissent the Houston Police Department is now ticketing people for honking their horn in solidarity with the Houston Janitors. Way to go Annise Parker, guess you’ve got to have something to do when you’re not drafting legislation that will result in starving the local homeless population. Please show support for the Houston Janitors……”

In addition to the ticket above and the report from Occupy Houston, I’ve read another account of a ticket for the same “infraction” that was written by an acquaintance.

Each of these reports is about a pro-janitor protest that took place yesterday in Downtown Houston.

Here is the Facebook page of the Houston Janitors.

Below is a picture of the janitor’s protest yesterday in Downtown Houston. The picture is from the janitors Facebook page.

Here is the Houston Chronicle report on this protest.  There were 15 arrests at the protest.

The great Houston blog Dos Centavos has been covering the janitor’s strike.

Below is Mayor Parker yukking it up Stephen Colbert. This photo is from Mayor Parker’s Facebook page. 

Mayor Parker was the guest on The Colbert Report last night.

Everything is so funny!

I saw Mayor Parker’s interview with Mr. Colbert. Mayor Parker talked about how Houston is a place where you can get a job.

What the Mayor failed to mention is that Houston also appears to be a place where you can get a ticket from the police for supporting the efforts of people to be paid a living wage while working in Houston.

Burning the flag is protected speech in the United States. It seems though that honking your horn in support of a cause is a problem in Houston, Texas.

In addition to the prospect of a ticket for horn honking , there was the unnecessary and violent arrest of a pro-janitor protester at an otherwise peaceful march last month in Downtown Houston. 

Mayor Parker and Democratic members of Houston City Council are no place to be found in support of Houston janitors.

What Mayor Parker and many Democratic members of Houston City Council have been able to accomplish in recent months is to criminalize many acts of sharing food with the homeless in Houston.

If we don’t publicize these concerns of police overreach, and if we don’t ask more of the elected representatives who should be standing up for working Houstonians, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

The work of freedom is up to each of us.

Every Houstonian, every Texan, and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

July 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Danny Glover Takes Up Cause Of Houston Janitors—Harris County Dem. Chair Lane Lewis Takes Up The Fight While Mayor Annise Parker Is Nowhere To Be Seen

Actor Danny Glover was in Houston yesterday to talk about efforts by janitors in Houston to be paid a higher wage, and to talk about larger issues of economic fair play in our society.

(Above–A picture from the event yesterday that was posted on the Facebook page of the Houston Janitors.)

From the Houston Chronicle

“Noted film actor and social activist Danny Glover met with a delegation of Houston janitors at the Third Ward Multi-Service Center on Sunday to talk about fair wages for workers cleaning offices in some of the city’s largest companies. Glover, who’s best known for his roles in the “Lethal Weapon” movies and “The Color Purple,” also called upon Houston civil rights, faith and political leaders to establish a task force to protect the First Amendment rights of Houston’s janitors…Glover’s visit to Houston comes at a critical time for Houston’s janitors, many of whom make just $9,000 annually. For the last month, more than 3,000 janitors, who are members of the Service Employees International Union Local 1, have been working without a contract after they asked for hourly wages to be increased from $8.35 to $10 to be phased in over four years. However, employers have offered a raise of just 50 cents an hour over five years..During Glover’s earlier meeting with three janitors in a private room, he listened intently as Adriana Vasquez, a single mother of three, explained how she cleans up 90 bathrooms in five hours as a janitor at JP Morgan Chase in downtown Houston..”On many levels, we’re talking about an epidemic,” Glover said. “We’re talking about a situation in which men and women have been reduced to objects simply for profit. In their stories, I see some of the most passionate, incredible human beings who are willing to stand up against those obstacles that are placed there and begin to build a life. I’m moved by their courage.”

It would be great to see Houston Mayor Annise Parker and our Houston City Council Democrats taking a lead role in this issue. It is difficult to understand how these folks can work hard to criminalize many acts of sharing food with the poor, but cannot work to assist hard-working people in a fight to make just a few extra dollars.

Mayor Parker and Council Democrats were silent after a Houston Police Department horse knocked down a pro-janitor protester at an otherwise peaceful march last month in Downtown Houston.

The Harris County Democratic Party and Harris County Democratic Chair Lane Lewis have been taking a role in this fight.

Here is a picture I took of Mr. Lewis at the June rally in Downtown Houston—

Maybe Mr. Lewis was on the phone here asking local elected officials and civic leaders to come on down in the fight for everyday working people.

Here is the Facebook page of the Houston janitors.

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Houston Janitors Conduct Peaceful March For A More Fair Wage—Video Of The Arrest By Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s Police

There was a peaceful protest in Houston this afternoon asking for no more than that janitors in Downtown Houston’s big office buildings be paid a more fair wage.

Below is a picture I took of these peaceful protesters marching under the Flag of the United States on this Flag Day.

What could be more patriotic and more American than the belief that a fair day’s work merits a fair paycheck?

What could be more patriotic and American than the right to assemble and to put forth our grievances?

Here is the website for these Houston janitors who are asking for a raise.

11 Houston janitors have already been fired for advocating for higher wages. 

The great liberal magazine The Nation has written about this issue.

From The Nation—

“Yesterday, the contract between the janitors and the cleaning contractors expired. SEIU Local 1 spent the past month trying to reach an agreement to raise the janitors’ hourly wage to $10 over the next three years. (They currently make $ 8.35 an hour.) But the contractors countered with an offer of a $0.50 pay raise phased in over five years and—according to SEIU spokesperson Paloma Martinez—said that they “wouldn’t budge.” The contractors claimed that the building owners and tenants—the aforementioned corporations—aren’t willing to pay anything close to a living wage…the city’s janitors are among the lowest paid in the nation, with workers in cities with far weaker real estate markets earning a significantly higher hourly wage: Cincinnati ($9.80), Cleveland ($10.30), Detroit ($10.97) and Chicago ($15.45) are a few examples.”

Here is what Houston Mayor Annise Parker- –a Democrat— recently said on her official Facebook page.

“Houston continues to be a leader in job growth!”

Everything is wonderful. Or at least everything is wonderful so long as you are content with $ 8.35 an hour.

(Below–Another picture from the rally.)

There was one arrest at this peaceful rally.

The Houston Chronicle has reported this arrest.

CNBC–a business network–reports that police horses from Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s police force trampled over some Houston janitors.

I counted at least 21 Houston police officers watching over this rally. Many of these officers were on horseback.

There was no need for this excessive presence. This was a peaceful march.

The only tension came from the excessive police presence. These were peaceful demonstrators.

Police officers are working people just like anybody else. I belive that most police officers are good honest people.  At the same time, Houston police are mistaken if they see janitors making $ 8.35 an hour as the enemy.

Here is a video of the arrest—

Below is a another video of the arrest at the march that was taken by Occupy Wall Street: Houston. The arrest is at around the 2 minute point of the video.

Houston City Council–with the near unanimous consent of Council Democrats as well as Mayor Parker, recently voted to criminalize many acts of sharing food with the homeless.

Not a single Council Democrat was at the rally today. Mayor Parker was not at the rally today.

What good are these Democrats if they don’t stick up for working people?

The bottom line is clear.

The freedom of all people is connected and the work of freedom is up to each of us.

The fate of all working people is connected.

Houston janitors merit better wages and we all  should consider taking up their just cause.

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 6 Comments

Rally For Houston Janitors On Tuesday June 5th

Houston janitors, who don’t make a fair salary while working in big downtown office buildings and elsewhere in our city, will be holding a rally this upcoming Tuesday. Below you see details of this event.

These are the people who help make Houston work. They merit our concern and our suopport.

June 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment