Office Cleaner Tells U.S. Senators of Her Financial Hardships

Senator Reid Press Conference Spotlights Struggles of Working Americans

Jun 13, 2008, 01:00 ET from SEIU Local 32BJ

    WASHINGTON, June 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Office cleaner and Local
 32BJ union member, Treena Walker who works at the National Archives not far
 from the nation's Capitol, shared her daily struggle to keep up with the
 rising cost of living at a press conference today at the Capitol hosted by
 U.S. Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Amy Klobuchar
     "Democrats are working to make the American Dream possible again so
 that families like Treena's can get ahead," Reid said. "But Republicans are
 saying no to millions of struggling Americans."
     "It defies reason when someone like Treena comes forward to tell her
 story and Republicans aren't willing to do something for her," said
 Minnesota Senator Klobuchar. "We go to the floor of the U.S. Senate on
 behalf of people like Treena to try to get things done," added North Dakota
 Senator Dorgan. The Senators highlighted their efforts to advance policies
 addressing the rising cost of gas, food and housing that have been blocked
 by Republican lawmakers.
     "Money's so tight that I have to ask myself, do I go grocery shopping
 or do I fill up the car," said Walker, an office cleaner and single mother
 of three from Bladensburg, MD. "I can't afford my son's asthma medicine so
 I must take him to the emergency room when he runs out." Walker and her
 children have been staying with a relative for the last six months because
 she's been unable to afford rent on her own.
     More than 500,000 men and women work as office cleaners throughout the
 country. They are an invisible workforce that often works at night in
 multi-million dollar buildings, but struggle to make ends meet. The plight
 of non-union cleaners is even tougher because they may make as little as
 $5.85 per hour with few, if any benefits. Union cleaners, often represented
 by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), typically earn 50%
 more per hour, if not more, and often receive employer-paid health care
     "Treena is not alone in the hardships she faces trying to provide for
 her family in this sour economy," said Jaime Contreras, Local 32BJ Capitol
 Area Director. "Her story , like that of so many thousands of hard working
 cleaners and other service workers, should be motivation enough for
 government and business to work together to ease the plight of the working
     Local 32BJ SEIU is working to improve the quality of life for families
 in the Mid-Atlantic region and across the nation through organizing and
 legislative campaigns to raise wages and benefits. The union seeks to work
 with lawmakers and others to end poverty and raise standards in the service
     With more than 100,000 members in six states, including 10,000 in
 Washington, DC, Local 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in
 the country.