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Janitors, Community Leaders Gather for Strike-prompted Civil Disobedience Training

More than 100 student, labor and community leaders descended on Boston’s Copley Square this week for a civil disobedience training in support of New England janitors. The hands-on coaching session featured live demonstrations of non-violent protest tactics, including sit-ins, pickets, street blockades and arrest protocol – giving participating leaders the tools to prepare thousands of their own members and activists in the coming days.

Led by a corps of seasoned leaders in non-violent civil disobedience tactics, the training capitalized on a growing groundswell of community support for the 14,000 New England janitors facing a potential strike in the coming week. Though affected workers hope to avoid a strike, a large divide remains between janitors and cleaning contractors on healthcare access, paths to full-time work and other key issues. Should the two sides fail to reach a fair agreement before existing contracts expire Sunday, a strike could begin as early as Monday, October 1.

The janitors, represented by SEIU Local 615, voted September 22 to authorize a strike – and reports of worker intimidation and illegal threats have been mounting ever since. Hundreds of labor, faith and community allies have vowed to stand in solidarity, and Thursday’s civil disobedience training served as the first step in a promised escalation.

Stay up to date on the janitors’ strike at www.seiu615.org or on Twitter at #nejanitors.

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