Janitors go on hunger strike in front of Century City JP Morgan Chase

Janitors eat their last meal on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010 before fasting for three days outside the Century City JP Morgan. Members of the Service Employee Union are calling on JP Morgan Chase to give janitors their jobs back.
Janitors eat their last meal on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010 before fasting for three days outside the Century City JP Morgan. Members of the Service Employee Union are calling on JP Morgan Chase to give janitors their jobs back. Patricia Nazario/KPCC

Some Century City janitors launched a hunger strike on Tuesday to call attention to a recent string of job cuts at the JP Morgan Chase Tower.

Union leaders want the White House to get involved.

JP Morgan Chase representatives said in a statement that a contracting company, ABM Janitorial Services, is ensuring that maintenance in the building will continue during the demonstrations.

About 100 janitors wore purple Service Employee Union T-shirts. A few of them hoisted a white sheet with black letters that read: "America Needs Jobs Not Lay Offs."

“Yo veo que fui impactada grandemente, economicamente en mi hogar,” Zoila Sosa told the crowd.

Translation: “I see that I’ve been greatly impacted economically.”

She received her layoff notice about two weeks ago. The single mother says that unless she gets her job back, her teenage son will have to get a job instead of enrolling in college.

“She’s been really stressed out," said Sosa’s son, 17-year-old Jorge, who joined his mother at the rally. “She’s been more tense. Worried. Sometimes she cries by herself, alone. We’re scared. We don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

“What a shame,” said Maria Elena Durazo, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

She’s accusing JP Morgan Chase of setting the wrong priorities with its $95 billion in federal bailout money – offering billions in bonuses for bankers while cutting custodial jobs.

“We called the White House, because the White House should get involved," said Durazo. "President Obama should get involved and say this is not what the bail out was about. It was about helping workers and not helping banks.”

Union leaders are calling directly on JP Morgan Chase to restore janitors’ jobs, because they say the janitorial contractor is just the middle man.

Seven janitors plan to concentrate the next few days on candlelight vigils, rallies and camping in front of the office tower where they worked. Their hunger strike is scheduled to wrap up on Friday afternoon.

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