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O.C. Janitors Underpaid, Union Says

Report, noting high cost of living, calls for $8 hourly wage plus health benefits.

September 02, 2000|JENNIFER MENA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Janitors in Orange County earn significantly less than their counterparts in Los Angeles and San Diego, according to a report released Friday by a union trying to secure new contracts for service workers.

The Service Employees International Union said most of the 4,000 janitors in Orange County receive $5.75 an hour. Janitors in Los Angeles earn $7.90 an hour, and in San Diego the average is $7 an hour, the report said.

The union says workers should receive $8 an hour plus health insurance, given the high rent and tight housing market in Orange County.

"What kind of Orange County are we going to be, of rich and poor people or an Orange County that has compassion for the working poor?" said Mike Garcia, president of Service Employees International Local 1877.

The report, based on interviews with workers and other demographic data, estimates that the average janitor spends up to 80% of his or her salary on basic expenses such as housing, food and transportation.

The union also said that a fifth of all janitors live in a single room, garage or mobile home.

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