National Effort to Challenge the 1%’s Shrinking Tax Contributions and Unchecked Political Power
Menlo Park, CA – Hundreds of janitors along with community supporters protested today at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park and Chevron’s office in San Ramon to call attention to one of the many gimmicks prospering corporations use to avoid their contributions back to the public institutions that help them prosper. The janitors’ action comes just a week after janitors through-out California voted to strike May 1st in response to contractors continued insistence on reversing the progress they have made transforming their industry over the last decade.
“My parents taught me the value of contributing back to those that helped us”, noted Rosalinda Cuevas, a janitor who cleans the offices of a high tech company in Palo Alto. “These corporations are not guided by this moral principle. And because of this, despite my children’s hard work they will not receive the schooling that allows them to develop their talents and fulfill their aspirations.”
Extreme inequality has led to increased political power by the 1%. The 1%’s increased political power has led to more tax schemes. In its survey of 280 corporations the Center for Tax Justice (CTJ) estimates that “excess stock-option tax benefits” has resulted in a decrease of federal and state revenues over three years of $12.3 billion. Despite sitting on $20 billion in cash, Chevron, by using the “stock-option” tax scheme, has avoided paying $106 million in state and federal taxes over the past three years. Additionally, CTJ estimates, in a special report on Facebook, that through this tax gimmick the corporation would avoid a staggering $3 billion in federal and state tax contributions.
“Corporations in Silicon Valley prosper because of our public schools, colleges, and universities, our public transportation system, our public courts,” argued SEIU Union Service Workers West First Vice President Lauren Jacobs. “These corporations are sitting on an unprecedented amount of cash, they can easily to contribute back to these institutions, to ensure our prosperity is broadened and endures.”
In 2012, 30,000 of USWW’s 40,000 members’ collective bargaining contracts are expiring, including office and tech janitors; security officers who help protect downtown high-rises’ Hollywood Studio janitors; San Francisco apartment workers; and LAX and SFO airport workers. On April 30th the contracts for janitors expire in Silicon Valley, the East Bay and the Sacramento region, in addition to those contracts covering janitors in Los Angeles and Orange County.
The janitors and security officers work for contractors who clean the offices of real estate landlords and their corporate tenants. Over the last decade, the janitors and security officers who make up USWW have lifted their wages above poverty and gained health care benefits. Through the year, these workers will be marching with Occupy and the 99% Movement to continue to take on The 1%.
Nationwide 250,000 property service workers united through SEIU will be renegotiating their contracts with the janitorial and security companies that employ them. Collective bargaining contracts for janitors are expiring in May in San Diego, in June in Seattle, Portland and Denver, and in July San Francisco.