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JP Morgan chief asked: "Why do you deny the people cleaning your buildings a living wage?
Ed: The following was being released yesterday (as this issue of Cleanzine was being completed) by the Service Employees International Union in the US...
Earlier today, following JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's testimony in front of the House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Committee regarding his company's recent massive banking loss, Adriana Vasquez, a janitor who cleans the JP Morgan Chase tower in Houston, Texas, confronted him with a simple question: "Despite making billions last year, why do you deny the people cleaning your buildings a living wage?"
Dimon evaded Adriana's question but told her to, "Call his office," to arrange a meeting.
Each night, Vasquez cleans 24 bathrooms across 11 floors in the JP Morgan Chase tower in downtown Houston. "I work hard each and every day scrubbing 24 bathrooms just to support my children, to keep food on the table and a roof over my head - but it still isn't enough," explained Vasquez. "I travelled to Washington, DC to confront Jamie Dimon because it is not acceptable that while he makes billions, he denies the people cleaning his buildings a living wage.
"I want Mr. Dimon to walk a day in my shoes," she said.
In a hearing otherwise focused on 'too big to fail', Rep. Green (D-TX) raised the critical issue of income inequality rippling through communities across the country and secured a commitment with Mr. Dimon to meet with him to discuss the issue. "The average janitor in Houston is making less than the poverty level," Green explained, "I want to meet with you about something I call, 'too small to live off.'"
Janitors in Houston, including Adriana, make just $10,000 annually - some make less - and have been offered only a $.50 raise across the next five years. JP Morgan Chase is a major player in the real estate industry nationwide, including in Houston where more than 3,000 janitors have voted to authorize their bargaining committee to strike.
"My coworkers and I are sick and tired of working hard but not being able to make ends meet. We are uniting to fight for better wages and a better life for our families," Vasquez continued, "We do not deserve to suffer abuse just because we are poor."
The contrast of Jamie Dimon - one the richest men in the United States and the 12th highest paid CEO in the country - and the janitors who clean his building - many make as little as $10,000 a year- poignantly illustrates both what's wrong with the economy and the growing gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us. A Houston janitor would have to work more than 2,500 years in order to earn JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon earned last year.
Houston has been named the nation's "No.1 Millionaire City" for annual growth in millionaires. Last year, the city's 15 largest employers reaped more than $178 billion in profits -more than 50% increase over the previous year. Despite this, Texas is tied with Mississippi for the highest proportion of minimum wage jobs in the nation. In the wake of huge profit margins, working Houstonians' wages have remained stagnant or fallen behind - in fact, one in five people working in Houston, cooks, cashiers, janitors, baggage porters and security guards, make less than $10 per hour.
21st June 2012