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Janitor Survivor Empowerment Act Awaits Governor’s Signature

Print Article Contributed by BSM Staff

SACRAMENTO --  More than 100 women janitors who’ve survived rape and sexual harassment are marching on foot this week from San Francisco to Sacramento in support of Assembly Bill 2079, which would strengthen sexual harassment and violence prevention procedures for janitors, particularly those who work the night shift.

Under the bill, employers will have to prove they’d been through sexual harassment training, and an advisory committee would be formed to oversee the process. In addition, peer-training would be employed so that immigrant women could educate one another about the risks involved with working night shifts.

The movement behind #RapeOnTheNightShift has been building for years, and with the emergence of a Frontline documentary of the same name, has garnered national attention.

“Sexual harassment, assault, and rape are not about sex appeal. It’s not about being good looking or being skinny or overweight. It’s about power and fear,” says Alejandra Valles, chief of staff and secretary-treasurer at SEIU United Service Workers West, which organized the march.

“When you think about that power, and you think about the immigrant women that clean your bathrooms and prepare your food… We need to understand those power dynamics. We ask that you recognize the expertise of these janitors in doing peer-to-peer training, so it’s not an HR person or some expert or some lawyer coming in to train immigrant women.”

The bill is currently on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, awaiting his signature.  The janitors expect to arrive in Sacramento on Friday, Sept. 14.

“Every step we take is one more step for justice in the name of all the women who have not come forward, that have been scared, that have been embarrassed or humiliated,” Miranda said.

If passed, Section 1421 of the Labor Code will be amended to read:
Every employer shall keep accurate records for three years, showing all of the following:
(a)  The names and addresses of all employees engaged in rendering janitorial services for the employer.

(b)  The hours worked daily by each employee, including the times the employee begins and ends each work period.

(c)  The wage and wage rate paid each payroll period.

(d)  The age of all minor employees.

(e)  Any other conditions of employment. SEC. 2.5. Section 1421 of the Labor Code is amended to read: 1421.

(f)  The names, addresses, periods of work, and compensation paid to all other covered workers.