On Monday a group of 14 survivors of sexual abuse began a 5-day hunger strike on the lawn of our state Capitol. They have put their lives and health on the line in order to demand Governor Brown’s signage of AB1978 into law. These women, my sheros, are the janitorial workers who clean our offices every night while we sleep. They have come forward in spite of language barriers, immigration status, shame and fear and in so doing, they are teaching us how to create social change, they are teaching us how to dismantle rape culture.
CALCASA has been working in solidarity with the SEIU-USWW and the MCTF to expose the abuse against janitorial workers, support legislation and educate policy-makers, provide training to employers, foster partnerships among workers and the local rape crisis center program to create promotoras (educators) within their own ranks. The California legislature sent a strong message through the recent passage of AB1978. The legislation would require training for both employers and workers in the janitorial industry and create governmental oversight to ensure protection of the legal rights of these workers. Now it’s time for Governor Brown to do his job by signing #AB1978 into law!
For those of us working for social justice and culture change, we have so much to learn from this group of women. Their action this week exemplifies how the personal is political. I spent a good part of Wednesday with them, witnessing as they publicly shared their stories, supported and assisted one-another. Some were taken to the hospital but none wanted to end the strike. The courage symbolized through their 5-day hunger strike demonstrates their refusal to be invisible. They shout out Ya Basta!
The women have risked their health and their lives in order to shine the light on the sexual harassment and assault experienced by janitorial workers. They have taken a tremendous step in making the invisible visible. However, the responsibility of Ending Rape on the Night Shift should not lay with them. We each have the responsibility of honoring and respecting them, of partnering with them to expose the sexual abuse of janitorial workers in order to create system’s change. Please join with the hunger strikers and CALCASA to say Ya Basta!
You can help by:
- Taking two minutes to contact Governor Brown today to sign AB1978 into law.
To learn more about the sexual abuse of janitorial workers, read Leticia’s story.