Janitor Who Cleans JP Morgan Chase Offices to Confront Dimon at House Hearing

Jun 19, 2012, 08:57 ET from Service Employees International Union

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by SEIU:

Today, as JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testifies 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 will attend the committee hearing with the hope of asking Dimon a simple question: How could a company that made more than $19 billion in profits last year not ensure that the janitors cleaning their buildings earn a decent wage?

Janitors in Houston, including Adriana, make just $9,000 annually and have been offered only a $.50 raise spread over 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.

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 $9,000 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 "#1 Millionaire City" for annual growth in millionaires. Last year, the city's 15 largest employers reaped more than $178 billion in profits in 2011 – a 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.


WHO: Adriana Vasquez, Houston Janitor; House Committee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit; Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase CEO

WHAT: House hearing entitled, "Examining Bank Supervision and Risk Management in Light of JP Morgan Chase's Trading Loss

WHEN: June 19, 2012 at 9:30 AM

WHERE: 2128 Rayburn House Office Building


In 2008, when Houston shut down for weeks due to hurricane damage, Adriana Vasquez, like many people who work low-wage jobs, was pushed over the edge financially. And four years later, she is yet to fully recover. Living on the margin has forced Adriana to give up custody of her three young boys – ages 10, 13 and 15 – after her building closed for several weeks in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Adriana has cleaned Chase Tower for the last three years where she has just five hours to clean 22 bathrooms spanning 11 floors.

Adriana Vasquez, and thousands of other janitors in downtown Houston like her, make just $9,000 annually. "I don't have a lot of time. I have to do everything fast, sometimes I don't even have time to go to the bathroom because we are constantly monitored," she explains. "And there can be no complaints from tenants, because if there are complaints, you are gone."

"What can you really do with that salary, how can I raise my children, how can I make sure they get an education?" says Vasquez, getting emotional the more she speaks. "I want a better life for them so I was forced to separate from them. Now I only see them on weekends because I work at night."

"I tell my colleagues that we should unite and fight together for better wages and a better life for our families. We do not deserve to suffer abuse just because we are poor," she continued. Vasquez arrived from Costa Rica 16 years ago and said that her life does not resemble what she imagined the "American dream" would be. Instead, she describes it as a "nightmare."

With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers—not just corporations and CEOs—benefit from today's global economy. www.seiu.org

SOURCE Service Employees International Union