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Clean Up This Mess

Last Friday (June 13), janitors and union workers from the local 200United chapter of Service Employees International Union took to the streets outside of the Capital District Psychiatric Center to protest what they feel are substandard wages and benefits. The action was part of SEIU’s national Justice for Janitors campaign.

According to Fred Pfieffer, union representative for 200United SEIU, the Justice for Janitors campaign has four basic demands: living wages, health insurance, pension, and fair treatment. The latter encompasses many aspects of the job, including a good working environment. Pfieffer argues that the hard physical labor done by janitors is important work and deserves the proper recognition by employers.

Janitors have a vested interest in the wages of their colleagues, Pfieffer pointed out. When contract negotiations occur between the building management and janitorial companies, janitors can be undercut by the low wages paid by some companies, he said.

“Our standards are eroded because Rayben is paying substandard benefits and wages,” said Pfieffer. “What that means for [Capital Region janitors] is we have a really hard time raising our standards and benefits.”

Rayben Enterprises, Inc. employs the janitors at the Capital District Psychiatric Center, who are paid $8 an hour. Pfieffer said the prevailing rate in Albany is $9 per hour.

Raymond Walker, president of Rayben, did not return multiple calls for comment on this story.

The picket line swelled to 20 janitors outside the Capital District Psychiatric Center on New Scotland Avenue, with the support of about a dozen onlookers. The event climaxed at 3 PM with a rally during which Pfeiffer talked about the need to continue picketing to expose contractors who undermine standards.

This nationwide protest came just two days before International Justice for Janitors Day last Sunday (June 15). It marks the first time Janitors for Justice has used a “fight-back strategy,” said Pfieffer, who is prepared to protest more in the coming months.

—Jennifer Schulkind

Test Time

“HIV stops with me, does it stop with you?” asks Capital District Take the Test Coalition in conjunction with this year’s Capital District Free HIV Testing Week, which begins Saturday (June 21) and runs through June 27. In addition to free testing at various locations around the Capital Region throughout the week, the Capital District Take the Test Campaign’s Outreach Day, Saturday, will feature information booths on HIV/AIDS prevention and services and safer-sex supplies.

“There are still far too many people walking around with HIV who don’t know it,” said Blue Carreker, director of development, marketing and public affairs for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. “The best way to address this is to get the test.”

Capital District Take the Test Coalition was formed three years ago and is in its third year of offering free HIV testing. Although June 27 is the nationally recognized HIV-testing day, Carreker said one day isn’t enough.

During the week, coalition members will provide free HIV testing in 32 locations around the Capital Region. Those who take advantage of free testing will receive a JAMZ 96.3 FM T-shirt, and those who return for results will receive a Price Chopper coupon.

For more information, call (800) 201-AIDS [(800) 233-SIDA for Spanish speakers] 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Free HIV Testing Schedule:

(C) free confidential testing, (A) free anonymous testing, (BIL) bilingual testers
Saturday, June 21: Waterworks Pub, 76 Central Ave., Albany. Walk in 4-8 PM; 434-4686 x229. (C)
Sunday, June 22: Metropolitan Community Church, 275 State St., Albany. Walk in 2-4 PM; 434-4686 x229. (C)
Monday, June 23: Albany Medical Center, New Scotland Avenue, Albany. By appointment. 12:30-4:30 PM; (800) 962-5065. (A)
Albany Damien Center, 12 S. Lake Ave., Albany. Walk in 6-8 PM; 463-6824 x408. (C) (BIL)
Club 22, 22 South St., Glens Falls, Walk in 6-9 PM; 434-4686 x229. (C)
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, Shaker Center, Route 155, Latham. By appointment 9 AM-3 PM; 785-1146. (C)
Tuesday, June 24: Community Classroom, 220 Green St., Albany. Walk in 6-8 PM; 434-4686 x229. (C)
Glens Falls Health Center, 65 Ridge St., Glens Falls. Walk in 3-8 PM; (800) 962-5065. (A)
Players, 77 Central Ave., Albany. Walk in 3-8 PM; 434-4686 x229. (C)
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, 190 Fairview Ave., Hudson. By appointment 2-6 PM; 828-4675. (C)
Wednesday, June 25: Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, 200 Broadway, Troy. By appointment 9 AM-noon; 274-5640. (C)
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, 259 Lark St., Albany. By appointment 10 AM-6 PM; 434-5678. (C)
Unity Hair Salon, 465 Fulton St., Troy. Walk in 1-4 PM; 434-4686 x229. (C)
Thursday, June 26: Albany Medical Center, New Scotland Avenue, Albany. By appointment 8:30 AM-7:30 PM; (800) 962-5065. (A)
CDAACA’s A Light on the Hill, 326 Clinton Ave., Albany. Walk in 7-9 PM; (800) 962-5065 or CDAACA at 427-2957. (A)
UHPP Teen Connection Clinic, 190 Fairview Ave., Hudson. Walk in 2:30-6 PM. 828-4675. (A)
Friday, June 27: CDAACA’s A Light on the Hill, 326 Clinton Ave., Albany. Walk in 7-9 PM; (800) 962-5065 or CDAACA at 427-2957. (A)
Centro Civico of Amsterdam, Inc., 143-145 E. Main St., Amsterdam. Walk in
10 AM-3:30 PM; 842-3762 x228. (A) (BIL)
Whitney M. Young Jr. Health Center-CHEER, Lark Street and Arbor Drive, Albany.
Walk In noon-4 PM; 463-6824 x408. (C) (BIL)

Photo: Teri Currie

Follow the Rainbow

Hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and their supporters marched through the streets of Albany’s Center Square neighborhood Saturday morning (June 14) to mark Capital Pride, a two-week-long annual event sponsored by the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council. Starting at the Capitol, the paraders made their way up State Street to Washington Park for the day’s Pride in the Park festival, which featured vendors, music, food and other festivities. This year’s celebration also paid tribute to the 25th anniversary of the creation of the rainbow flag in San Francisco and the passage of the Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act last December, which, after three decades of lobbying the New York State Legislature, finally succeeded in expanding the state’s civil-right laws to include protection for gays and lesbians.

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