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Elsa Caballero: Public Employee and Janitors Mobilize in Support of City of Houston Bonds

Note: The following is a guest post.

For the past month, Houston’s janitors have joined forces with our city’s public employees in favor of the City of Houston bond package and METRO referendum on the ballot this election cycle. Volunteers, made up of HOPE and SEIU Local 1 members, are having voter-to-voter conversations about the real immediate benefits of improving our libraries, parks, public housing, public transportation and roads. Working in conjunction with the Vote for Houston’s Future Committee we will have reached 4,000 households in person or by phone by November 6th.

Our members have placed their full support behind this investment in our city because we believe in growing our economy from the bottom up. All Houstonians benefit from quality infrastructure, but it’s low and middle-income families who often depend on these services. This is our opportunity to pull our resources together to balance opportunity for families who live on the margins. With nearly half of all single mothers in Houston living in poverty, it would be immoral and dangerous for us to ignore a growing wealth gap that could undermine our city’s economic vitality in the near future.

This past summer, Houston’s janitors living on as little as $9,000 a year went on strike for a better future for their families. After five weeks, with the support of political leaders, regular Houstonians, and union members from around the country, janitors saved their union and won a 12% raise. The story of one of these janitors, Hernan Trujillo, is a testament to the benefit of quality public infrastructure. As the breadwinner for himself and his two elderly parents, Hernan worked as a dishwasher during the day and a janitor at night, leaving precious little time for himself. Unable to afford a car, Hernan spent most of his time going to work on the bus where he would make time to study the English books he borrowed from his local library. Now with his English close to perfect, he hopes to return to school.

There are thousands of others like Hernan. When families have avenues to rise out of poverty, we all benefit. A vote in support of the city bonds is vote for a brighter Houston for all.

This post was written by Elsa Caballero, State Director for SEIU Local 1 Texas

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