Opportunity Zone Breakfast Interrupted for Good Jobs

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TMT breaking promise leads janitors to speak out during panel discussion

Developers planned a breakfast to discuss the new “Opportunity Zones” created by Trump Tax cuts. They planned to hear from Vanessa Sturgeon, the informal spokesperson for Opportunity Zones in Portland and President of TMT Development. Lourdes Rodas, a janitor and member of SEIU 49, joined fellow janitors and supporters to hold Sturgeon to her commitment to create good, union jobs at TMT’s Park Avenue West Tower. Rodas asked: “We want to know why you didn’t fulfill your promise to create good jobs.” The answer Sturgeon gave? “That’s not really relevant to the opportunity zone topic…” Janitors rose to their feet chanting “Janitors Demand Opportunity!” and “Justice for Janitors!”

TMT Development’s non-answer continues a string of embarrassing revelations about their conduct at Park Avenue West.  As part of their development of Park Avenue West, TMT committed to create good, union jobs for janitors in the building. But they have not lived up to the commitment. Their refusal to employ union janitors at Park Avenue West gained coverage in the Willamette Week, lead to activists hanging a banner from a high-rise window, was disclosed to investors in a series of concerning notices, and has caused an ongoing exchange with Portland city attorneys. Now, Sturgeon faces direct confrontation as she and the company continue to refuse to follow through on their commitment. Rodas, along with thousands of her coworkers, have raised standards for wages and working conditions for Portland-area janitors by forming a union. Responsible building owners across Portland contract with union janitorial firms and gain piece-of-mind that janitors in their building are paid a fair wage with access to affordable medical insurance and a way to speak up about problems on the job. A list of responsible contractors is available at www.RaiseAmericaPDX.org/Responsible.