La Oferta

December 9, 2023


November 20, 1991

By Yolanda Reynolds

Justice for Janitors

Sunday noon at Sacred Heart Church, a determined crowd of janitorial workers and their supporters met for a rally.

The janitors have taken their struggle for justice in the workplace to the street and the general public after over a year and half of inaction from an unresponsive system.

The employer who is the object of the workers protest is Apple Computer based in Cupertino. This world known company, which pays its Chief Executive Officer, John Scully $16 million a year, contracts with a janitorial company that pays most of its employees only $5.25 per hour. Most of the workers have no benefits or health insurance for themselves and their families nor do they receive sick leave.

This janitorial company Shine Building Maintenance which holds the Apple contract is located at 481 Perry St. in Santa Clara, Ca. This company was found guilty of violating labor law and ordered last year to pay its employees 510,000 in unpaid salaries. The owner of this company is a Helder Pereira.

Female Shine employees also accuse the owner of sexual harassment. Shine employees after 12 years of work are eligible to earn $6.50 per hour. Some Shine employees, “a handful,” earn $7 per hour, have one week vacation and are eligible to health benefits for which they must contribute $100 per month.

The majority, of the janitorial workers are Mexican American andabout a third are women.

Living in this Valley where housing costs are so steep and where salaries are generally much higher, particularly for electronic industry employees, and where the management is paid some of the highest salaries in the world – abuse of some of its workers is seen by many as morally and economically indefensible.

“Justice for Janitors”

Outrage over the treatment of the janitorial workers and the lack of concern by Mr. Pereira and Apple Computer management has prompted forty different groups to join together in an attempt to obtain fair treatment of janitorial employees by targeting Apple Computer a company that prides itself in forward thinking employee relations.

Mike Garcia, President of the Service Employees International AFL-CIO Santa Clara County Central Labor council Affiliate said that contrary to Apple Executive claims of innocence, Apple has the responsibility for setting standards protecting employee rights when selecting the “low bi” contractors. Garcia by Sunday had been on a week long protest fast but  said that he has been energized in his fast from the tremendous support that he and the janitor have received. The group is holding a vigil at Apple De Anza Blvd. and Stevens Creek Blvd. in Cupertino for the next two weeks.

Sunday the group announced that the protest will continue until Apple takes some corrective action. Many volunteers came forward to carry on the fast that Garcia and several other janitorial workers, Salvador Bustamante and Juan Perez last week.

Cesar Chavez, famous for his farm labor organizing in the 1960’s called for a boycott of Apple products. He suggested that everyone refuse to buy or use Apple computers and its products, including those in the classroom.

Chavez said that the key to such a boycott would be “unity.” For a company to change he said, “it must feel the pressure in the pocketbook.”

Father Matthew (Mateo) Sheedy, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, speaking in Spanish said that, a young mother and her six children came by his parish office last week, asking for help because all of her family’s possessions, food, clothing, cooking utensils and bedding had been confiscated by the police from their encampment along the Guadalupe River bed. Her husband. janitor earns $500 for a 50 hour work week.

Father Mateo spoke of this family’s plight as an example of the hardship experienced by working families – many who suffer such indignities due to greed and injustice.

Some large companies, especially Apple Computer take great pride in the manner they treat their employees. In recent years that image has tarnished.

The current controversy over the treatment of the janitors working at Apple exposes a core of greed and insensitivity usually attributed to corrupt, shortsighted capitalists.

The following is a poem written especially for this rally. The poet is Ruberto Tinoco Duran, whose most recent poems are scheduled to be published and will soon be available for purchase.



shine don’t shine us on for

we are people of the sun

we have value


you shine us on for we are

but a penny in your thoughts


we ate not crazy because we

clean gum off your floors

to feed and clothe our children


we are people with pride


we are the people of the

pyramid looking speaking to

you from atop your twin towers.


from the east foothills to the

west our struggle for justice

will not rest


Apple shine we are people in

your public pie like bees

buzzing your conscious

singing songs on street corners

of Aztlan


Do not be confused Apple Shine

we are not the floors that you

step on the only clean them.


somos gente del sol color verde

cobre de valor


Manzana shine sabemos que

en sus pensamientos somos

nada mas un centavo


no somos locos ni ignorantes

porque limpiamos edificios con

pisos llenos de goma para proveer

comida y vestir a nuestros niños


somos Raza, mexicanos, chicanos

gritando desde arriba

no de abajo


del este hasta el oeste nuestra lucha

va a seguir siempre sin Descanso


manzan brilla nosotros somos

la gente en tu pastel público

abeja zumbido en tu conciencia


no hay que confundir Mr. Manza

Shine no somos pisos

Solamente limpiamos los pisos.

Poem printed with author’s permission.


For more information on the Apple boycott and the protest on behalf of the janitors call (408) 452-8515. © La Oferta Newspaper.