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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

'We lived it': nightshift janitors lead fight to prevent sexual assault on the job

Thursday, October 03, 2019

"Anabella Aguirre has spent 19 years working in the janitorial industry in Los Angeles, California, since she came to the US from Guatemala. While working the night shift, Aguirre was raped by her supervisor and sexually assaulted a year later at a different work site.

In the midst of an epidemic of sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault facing nightshift janitors, Aguirre and dozens of other janitors in California are fighting back to enact into law sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training led by the workers themselves.

'I am through what happened,' said Aguirre, who is also now a trained self-defense instructor. 'I am not just a survivor and I have the ability to be a teacher for my fellow colleagues, especially as an immigrant and as a woman, these things are part of my empowerment and ability to help others and actually change the culture.'

...In 2016, these workers successfully pushed the passage of a California state bill, assembly bill 1978, that mandated all janitorial service contractors register with the state and provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees by 1 January 2020. California janitorial workers have gone on marches and hunger strikes, and led protest actions at California’s capital to advocate for legislative action.

Now rank-and-file members are pushing for the California governor, Gavin Newsom, to sign assembly bill 547, the Janitor Survivor Empowerment Act, into law after it passed the state assembly and senate earlier this month. Newsom has until 13 October to sign or veto the bill.

...'We professional janitor women know exactly what people go through on a daily basis because we have lived through it and that makes us the best candidates to conduct these trainings,' said Veronica Lagunas, a janitorial worker for 15 years and bargaining committee member with SEIU-USWW. 'We are human and we are facing these things and fighting because we believe we can change things. We deserve rights, support, and access to the tools we know can create change.'”

Read the full article here.