Interfaith Leaders Unite In Support Of Janitors

They say it's about respect for their human dignity. The metropolitan organization gathered members of Houston's clergy, who are uniting to show their support for janitors who want their wages increased.

In a gathering held at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, clergy representing various denominations announced their support of an end to the ongoing strike involving Houston janitors, janitorial contractors and area building owners.

This is Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of the diocese:

"As a person of faith, who recognizes the inestimable value worth dignity of every human person, I believe the economy exists to serve the person, and not the other way around. Economic justice calls for decent work at fair living wages for all people."

According to the union that represents some 3,200 janitors, Houston's 15 largest employers brought in over $178 billion in profit last year, while janitors are paid below $9,000 dollars annually. Cardinal DiNardo says it's about appealing to their plight morally.

"I appeal to all people of good will, to be in solidarity with janitors as they seek a modest pay increase over a three year period. The increase would amount to $10.00 an hour in the third year. Janitors are key to the success of Houston. They contribute to the common good of  our great city, and they too should have living wages, that allow them access to the products of the common good."

Rabbi David Lyon of Congregation Beth Israel says there is a difference between wants and needs.

"We can all want to be a gold winner in the Olympics. Many of us will never reach that place, but we all have a need to feel that we're part of the same American dream,  where we can feel proud of the place where we live and where we work, so that the promise, is not that everybody should have the same, but at least the opportunity to reach similar goals. And as Cardinal said, not for the sake of greed, but for the sake of dignity and human goodness."

Lutheran Bishop Mike Rinehart says they are pleased that all parties continue to try and hammer out a settlement:

"We believe that $9,000 a year is not a livable wage, and it is perfectly appropriate for those conversations to be taking place. Our job here is only to be a voice for the voiceless, to stand with those who are struggling on the economic ladder, and to be able to stand with them and say with strength, that we support them in these efforts, and that we believe that it is very important to offer a fair and living wage, not a minimum wage."

Janitors went on strike not long after their current contract expired at the end of May.

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Pat Hernandez

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Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...