As janitors we often work alone in the evening or late at night. We clock in after the last worker has flipped off the lights and locked the door. It’s tough work done for little pay in the anonymity of night, among mazes of empty cubicles and conference rooms. Some of us do not speak up because we fear being deported or fired.
Documentary Uncovers Abuse
“Rape on the Night Shift” a PBS 2015 Frontline documentary uncovered the sexual abuse of immigrant women who clean the malls where we shop, the banks where we do business, and the offices where we work. The documentary found 42 lawsuits from the past two decades from one company where janitors had been sexually harassed, assaulted or raped at work.
As janitors, sisters, and survivors — we have come together to stand up for our rights and make the industry safer for all workers. We are proud the Governor signed AB 1978 (Gonzalez Fletcher), which requires employers in the janitorial industry to provide sexual harassment and violence prevention training to employees.
More Action is Needed
AB 1978 was an early step toward ensuring complete physical, mental, and financial security for our co-workers. But when it comes to incidents of sexual harassment or violence, our supervisors are often not trained properly on how to respond and sometimes they end up doing nothing at all because it. Working in an isolated workplace decreases the likelihood of having someone intervene or serve as a witness.
We know our industry as workers, survivors, and experts. We are empowering ourselves and our coworkers to educate the workforce. We are here as experts and survivors.
AB 2079 Goes Farther to Help Workers at Risk
In partnership with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, we are sponsoring AB 2079 which would require peer counselors, also known as “promotoras”, to train other janitorial workers on how to prevent sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
Many times, our co-workers do not know to report sexual harassment or assault in the workplace. Due to the unique nature of our workforce and our workplace, this problem requires innovative solutions. Trainings must be catered and overcome any language or cultural differences. To prevent future abuse, it is vital that janitors comprehend the information and training provided.
Peer-to-peer counseling can be an effective teaching tool, as the worker can more closely relate with their peer counselor than if the training was conducted by an outside source or agency.