By Juan Calvillo
Elizabeth Warren compared the Latino janitor protests of the early ‘90s, to the persistence and hard work needed to win the 2020 election during Monday night’s rally at East Los Angeles College.
Elizabeth Warren compared the Latino janitor protests of the early ‘90s, to the persistence and hard work needed to win the 2020 election during Monday night’s rally at East Los Angeles College. Warren said that her purpose at the rally was to shine a light on a specific group. “Tonight I am here to honor Latinas, who are the unsung heroes,” Warren said.
She said that the 2020 election was about power. Warren said there had been misuse of power and that it needed to change. This led Warren to tell the story of how janitors, mostly women and latinas, in Century City, Los Angeles lived in a life that was often called “luxury by day, sweat shop by night” in the ‘80s.
Warren said that members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) came to talk to the workers about the simple idea of power. Over time these women janitors began sharing their experiences and stories. This caused them to ask for more rights for all workers. “They proved the lesson, that (when) women start telling their stories, change is on the way,” Warren said.
These seeds eventually became the rallying force for the Justice for Janitor protests of the 1990s. Warren said that despite the protestors being arrested and some hospitalized, the group continued on pushing day after day for the chance to be heard and have a place at the bargaining table. This culminated with a sit down between the companies that employed the janitors and the janitors as equals. The sit down brought benefits and wage increases.
Warren said that this showed the persistence and strength needed to get change to occur. She said that the upcoming election was going to be similar. “It is an unshakeable truth that I learned a long time ago. Nobody makes it on their own,” Warren said. She said that to win and create meaningful change needs partners and a coalition. She said that from the Justice for Janitors protestors to those students that took part in the 1968 walkouts, it showed the power of fighting back. “History teaches us the power of fighting back. So, yes, these are hard times and yes, people are afraid. And the danger is real, our very democracy hangs in the balance. So we can get timid, we can cower. Or we can fight back…this is the fight we have been called to. The fight to save our democracy,” Warren said.
Warren was introduced by first partner of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Angelica Salas, the executive director at the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights. Newsom lauded Warren for her ability to see that inequality doesn’t affect every community equally, while Salas reiterated that Warren not only had ideas, but also plans to make them come true.