One hundred and fifty five contracted Janitors, who provide cleaning services to Puerto Rico’s veteran hospitals have formed their union and joined Local 1996/SPT-SEIU. These Janitors are fighting for protection from mistreatment, better working conditions, and increased pay.
Mariel Vilches, a Janitor at the San Juan VA hospital, and leader of the union efforts said, “In March, we were presented with the opportunity for the union to represent us and we received it with enthusiasm…in order to defend our rights and working conditions.”
The workers will benefit from President Biden’s raising the minimum wage to $15/hour for Federal contractors earlier in the year. The order initially excluded workers in Puerto Rico, but thanks to the efforts of 1996/SPT-SEIU the US island territory was included in the final order.
“Receiving this increase means a lot and is a relief in the face of the rise in electricity, gasoline, and food. It is a relief for my family, my children, to be able to get ahead while everything improves,” said Vilches.
Now that these Janitors have won their union, they are fighting to get a fair contract. We stand with them and support them in their fight.