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Thousands Of Janitors March In Downtown, Call For Better Treatment

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Thousands of janitors marched up and down downtown L.A. streets on Friday, demanding better working conditions, higher wages and an end to unfair labor practices, according to KNBC.

Their march came as negotiations between SEIU United Service Workers West, the union representing more than 20,000 office-building janitors across Los Angeles, and office-building owners approach a midnight-Saturday deadline. The workers' contract is set to expire at midnight Saturday.

These are the people who clean up after-hours in office buildings. If a new deal is not reached by that time, thousands of janitors could begin striking as early as Monday.

Aside from higher wages and improved health insurance coverage, one of the chief issues of this particular negotiation is sexual harassment.

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"We're talking about a workforce that works in the middle of the night, often alone," said Refugio Mata, of SEIU, to KNBC. "They're being the targets of harassment and assault and so they're all standing up today throughout the state and saying enough is enough."

Advocates want to require office building managers to train workers on how to report sexual harassment, and to investigate those claims in a prompt, professional manner.

Guisell Martinez Flores, a woman who was born in Honduras and immigrated to Los Angeles in 1994, explained to the Daily News how she was willing to strike if a proper agreement was not reached.

“As an immigrant, single woman, I fight for respect for immigrants,” said Martinez Flores. “We are people who want to work, who have dreams like everybody, we have families, so we just want to be better.”